Pre-Colonial Africa’s Benin Moat Was Much Wider & Longer Than China’s Great Wall

0 Posted by - September 20, 2020 - DID YOU KNOW

Photo credits: Alamy Stock Photo

Did you know the wall of Benin (generally referred to as the Benin Moat) was greater than the wall of China? It was also four times longer and six times wider.

This is the story of a lost medieval city you’ve probably never heard about. Benin City, originally known as Edo, was once the capital of a pre-colonial African empire located in what is now southern Nigeria. The Benin Empire was one of the oldest and most highly developed states in west Africa, dating back to the 11th century.

The Guinness Book of Records (1974 edition) described the walls of Benin City and its surrounding kingdom as the world’s largest earthworks carried out prior to the mechanical era. According to estimates by the New Scientist’s Fred Pearce, Benin City’s massive wasll consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops.

According to the Institute for Benin Studies, Benin City is also where the world’s first street lights were built. Below are some more amazing facts about one of pre-colonial Africa’s greatest works of architecture.

  • Benin City was surrounded by massive walls dug by Oba Oguola in 13th century and Oba Ewuare I in the 15th century.
  • The Great Wall of Benin extended for some 16,000 km in all, in a mosaic of more than 500 interconnected settlement boundaries. They covered 6, 500 sq km and were all dug by the Edo people.
  • The Great wall of Benin took an estimated 150 million hours of digging to construct, and are perhaps the largest single archaeological phenomenon on the planet.

References: The Guardian Newspaper of Great Britain, The 1974 Guinness Book of World Records, and The Institute for Benin Studies

*’s writer and historian Victor Trammell edited and contributed to this report

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