History's Great Walls, Good Neighbors or Bad Policy?

A Top Ten Origins Video. In the midst of a migration crisis in Europe and strident talk by some American politicians about Mexican immigrants coming to the United States, people around the world are resorting to an old strategy: building walls. Historically, walls have a decidedly mixed record in achieving their goals to keep some people in and other out. While good fences may make good neighbors, as the old cliché has it, neighborliness has not been the reason behind most of history’s major wall projects. Here is a look at some of the most famous of these insular architectural projects.


Written by Jacob Beard. Narration by Dr. Nicholas B. Breyfogle.

To view the section of this video about a specific wall, follow the links below:

Wall of Jericho

Hadrian's Wall

Great Wall of China

Berlin Wall

The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

The West Bank Barrier

Hungarian Border Wall

This is a production of Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective at the Goldberg Center in the Department of History at The Ohio State University and the Department of History at Miami University. For more information about Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, please visit http://origins.osu.edu.

Video production by Laura Seeger and Dr.Nicholas B. Breyfogle. Audio production by Scott Sprague and Paul Kotheimer, College of Arts & Sciences Academic Technology Services. The Origins' editorial team includes Editors Nicholas Breyfogle, Steven Conn and David Steigerwald; Managing Editors Jessica Viñas-Nelson, Lauren Henry and Seth A. Myers and Associate Editor Eric M. Rhodes.
We thank the Stanton Foundation for their funding of this and other Origins projects.