In the wild flurry of activity coming from the Trump White House, it’s easy to forget that one of the current administration’s top priorities on the campaign trail was drumming up support for a wall between the United States and Mexico. Well, you might have forgotten, but the Donald certainly hasn’t. Every few months, Trump resurrects the idea of a wall that will keep out the nefarious element that he perceives is flooding over the border. Whether or not that’s true (and it’s patently false), Trump is dead set on building a border wall. He’s far from the first leader to attempt such a move. In fact, history is filled with border walls, and more are springing up every day. Here are some of the most insane, current domestic situation excluded.
1. The Amorite Wall
In the waning days of the Sumerian empire, two of it’s final rulers, Shulgi and Shu-Sin, found themselves under attack from the neighboring Amorite people. To keep them at bay, the Sumerian rulers had a wall constructed that ran for more than a hundred miles through what is now modern-day Iraq. Unfortunately, some historians suggest that the wall only kept the Amorites for a few years. At some point Amorite warriors simply went around the wall and began plundering at will in the 21st century BCE.
2. The Egyptian Wall in the Gaza Strip
The simmering tensions in the Middle East are perhaps best personified by the wall that separates the Gaza Strip and the country of Egypt. In recent years, Egyptian spending on the wall has increased dramatically. In spite of that fact, reports indicate that the wall has been circumvented several hundred times.
3. Hadrian’s Wall
When Roman-occupied Britain felt increasing pressure from the “barbarians” living in northern England and Scotland in 122 CE, they constructed Hadrian’s Wall, a 15-foot-tall barricade that once ran the entire width of Britain. The wall was occupied by garrisons of troops for more than 300 years until it was abandoned during the Roman retreat from Britain in the fifth century. Though a big portion of the wall has been carried off, there are still several stretches of Hadrian’s Wall that you can visit in England today.
4. The Spain/Morocco Border
The southern tip of Spain is actually in Africa in the form of two cities, Ceuta and Melilla, which butt up against the northern border of Morocco. In 1995 — for fear of African immigrants entering the EU without permission — Spain and the European Union began to build border walls. The rapid expansion of ISIS in recent years has increased this expansion. That said, some illegal immigrants have been known to get around the wall by simply swimming around it.
5. The Long Walls of Athens
In the ancient world, ensuring that your connection to the sea was reliable was a must for survival. That’s why the city of Athens — which is located four miles inland — built The Long Walls. The twin walls jutted out from Athens’ southeast corner and ran parallel until they ran into the harbor towns of Piraeus and Phalerum. With the Long Walls to protect them, Athens was able to secure resupplies from the ocean even when they were under siege. The walls stood for around 400 years until they were destroyed in 86 BC by Roman general Sulla.
6. The Berlin Wall
In 1961, the Soviet authorities who controlled East Berlin began to build a network of concrete walls geared toward two purposes. The first was familar: to keep enemies of the state at bay. The second was more nefarious: the wall was designed to prevent the citizens of East Berlin to defect to the West. The Berlin Wall stood for nearly three decades until the Eastern section of the city decommissioned their use. As soon as word got out, residents on both sides of the wall began tearing it down with rudimentary tools.
7. The Great Wall of China
Construction on the world’s most famous border wall began in the 3rd century BCE, but it wasn’t brought to full strength until the 1300s, when the Ming Dynasty officials added huge sections to the 25-foot-tall wall in order to defend against invaders from the north. The Great Wall of China once held the record for the biggest manmade structure in the world. Unfortunately, it was useless for defense. Mongols and assorted warriors routinely bypassed the wall to get to their Chinese prizes.
8. The Cyprian Wall
You might be aware of the ongoing feud between the Greek and Turkish people, but you might not know that the two nations still share a silent battleground on the nation of Cyprus. Though the European Union recognizes Southern Cyprus, the nation is actually divided in half thanks to a wall erected by invading Turks in 1974. The Turkish people refuse to give up their claim on the northern half of Cyprus, a stance that has hindered the nation’s acceptance on the larger international stage.
9. The India-Pakistan Border
The countries of India and Pakistan have been fighting so long that the soldiers on their border wall have developed well-worn traditions. At the end of each day, soldiers from both sides approach the border wall, lower their flags, and head home, pledging to continue their dispute in the morning. India and Pakistan are still embroiled in their conflict, which makes this show of routine civility all the more fascinating.
10. The Great Wall of Gorgan
One of history’s most impressive and enduring mysteries, the Great Wall of Gorgon once stood in what is now Iran. For several centuries it was thought that the Great Wall was built by Alexander the Great, but recent reports indicate that it was the work of Persians, who built the wall around the fifth century to keep Huns from ransacking their towns in the north. The wall also had a dual purpose of running water along the entire 121-mile length.