The Great Wall of China began in the 5th Century BC during the Warring States Period at the end of the Zhou Dynasty. At that time the wall consisted mostly on packed dirt. It was not after 221 BC with the emergence of the Qin Dynasty that new walls made out of stone were constructed. The majority of the wall seen today was constructed during the Ming Dynasty starting in the 14th Century. As reported by Xinhua News, unauthorized mining in the Hebei province is causing rapid deterioration of the Wall in the surrounding area.
The damaged portion of the Great Wall is located in a remote area near the county of Laiyuan in Hebei Province, about 200 kilometers southwest of Beijing. The area is home to a dozen small mines, with some operating as close as 100 meters to the centuries-old wall.
Villagers and local cultural heritage protection officials told Xinhua that about 700 meters of the wall, which was built during the reign of Emperor Wanli during the Ming Dynasty (1573-1620), had already collapsed, and more walls and even towers are likely to collapse if the mining continues unchecked.