There is a pseudoscientific theory popularized by Russian authors Fomenko and Nosovsky which, among other things, claims that the Great Wall of China had been built by peoples living to the north of it who were more advanced than the Chinese at the time, and, therefore, its goal was to protect the North from the Southern barbarians (the Chinese), not the other way around.

As a proof of that claim they mention that the loopholes on the Great Wall face the Chinese side.

I don't in any way support that theory but is that very fact (loopholes facing the Chinese side) true? And if yes, as a side question, why is it so?

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  • The link you provide doesn't mention the Great Wall of China. Can you please link to where they make this claim? I'd like to see what they mean by "loopholes"
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 17, 2016 at 13:04
  • @oddthinking: ruspravda.info/… if you can read Russian. Loopholes is my translation, I meant slits in the walls you can shoot through.
    – Quassnoi
    Jan 17, 2016 at 14:50
  • I did not realize that "loopholes" are part of a battlement. You can see them here: travelchinaguide.com/china_great_wall/construction
    – Avery
    Jan 17, 2016 at 16:21
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    Seems like common sense that any such wall would have some basic defenses facing into its own lands. If it didn't, the troops and their valuable provisions would be sitting ducks easily raided by bandits, criminals or outlaws. Pretty sure I've seen this on regular medieval city walls... Trying to remember specific examples Jan 17, 2016 at 21:35

1 Answer 1


The Ming period Great Wall, which is the impressive one that tourists visit, generally has battlements on the north side, and parapets on the other so that the guards don't fall off. At Mutianyu, indeed, there are loopholes on both sides. However, even at Mutianyu, the crenels are often only on the north side, as you can see in this photo:

Photo from http://www.china-mike.com/china-tourist-attractions/great-wall-china/defending-the-wall/

Tourist websites seem to assume that this is just in case the enemy got to the other side. There are also west-facing loopholes, in case the invader got on top of the wall.

Why would the north build crenels on its own side? Also, for this to work as "defending the north from the south", you'd have to fake quite a lot of history -- like, most pre-modern Chinese texts. That would have been a lot of work for the fabrication industry!

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    thanks for your answer! as I said, I don't support any of that, just wanted to know if the fact they are presenting as a proof is the way the say (not that it proves anything). Do I get it right that the loopholes face either both directions or outside Chinese side only, but never inside the Chinese side?
    – Quassnoi
    Jan 17, 2016 at 18:16
  • Yes, I did not see any descriptions of loopholes that are only on the Chinese side. Visitors might confuse them with the drainage system, which is on the Chinese side so that moss doesn't grow on the north side.
    – Avery
    Jan 18, 2016 at 2:21
  • Just to get it in context about where this claim comes from... It's widely spread across and from Russian pseudoscientific webpages trying to prove that Rus' occupied the territory from Pacific to Atlantic Oceans and that the "Great Rus'" built the wall to defend from Chinese ;)
    – sashkello
    Jan 18, 2016 at 4:13

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