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During the Ming dynasty, China was frequently attacked by centaurs from north. In order to ward off the invaders, the emperor of China wanted to build a long stretch of barrier along the mountain ranges.

However, this barrier must be easily accessible for the people from the north while preventing access for the centaurs. Therefore, I am designing an unique Great Wall of China which can't be scaled by the likes of centaur. I need a barrier that can be crossed by humans and not centaurs.

What type of entrance would be impossible for a centaur-like creature to pass through, yet be passable for a regular human being?

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  • $\begingroup$ This question is now the subject of a Worldbuilding Meta discussion: meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/2425/29 $\endgroup$ – a CVn Aug 9 '15 at 10:43
  • $\begingroup$ I've revised the question, so can I bail this question? $\endgroup$ – user6760 Aug 9 '15 at 12:41
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand, You want to build a wall that is accessible while the goal of the Wall is to prevent invasions? Anyway, you can just use gates to control the movement of goods and people : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiayu_Pass and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juyong_Pass $\endgroup$ – Vincent Aug 9 '15 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think steps would stop a centaur, see this ---> animalsoureverything.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/… $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 9 '15 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ The edit is a different question. I have heard (might not be well founded though) that fire stations use spiral staircases because with a straight staircase the horses would walk up to the sleeping quarters but could not walk back down again. So horses walk up stairs but specifically not down. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 9 '15 at 20:57
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The easiest solution would be manually guarded gates. Open them in normal use, close them when centaurs are approaching. They don't interfere with normal usage so the people of the north can use carriages or ride horses.

But your question seems to strive for a technical solution. I assume that your centaurs are not wild animals with human-like features but intelligent creatures with horse bodies. Whatever technical solution you find you still need to guard and control it, as intelligent beings will find ways to work around or destroy it.

As the centaurs aren't horses I don't think that downward stairs are an obstacle for them like they may be for real horses.

The only way to differentiate between centaurs and humans is the size and mass of their body and their feet (hooves). So the two ideas I have are either a turnstile or a cattle grid.

A full height turnstile has to be build so that only single persons can pass it. The installation can be built in a massive fashion, like a very sturdy revolving door. It doesn't have to look like this modern example, more like a medieval revolving gate: Turnstile

Other similar approaches are kissing gates or simple stiles. Those are generally inaccessible for livestock but may to easy to jump over when constructed in a way that they are still practical for humans.

Cattle grids generally work when they are long enough and animals can't jump over it. While they technically may work for your centaurs I think intelligent beings may find easy ways to circumvent these (e.g. with special snow-shoe style footwear). Cattle grid

I don't see any purely technical solution as viable against this kind of enemy. But you need to make life as hard as possible for the foe. So a combination of these measures (a guarded gate with cattle grid and probably revolving doors) may be the best solution.

Of course the rest of the wall needs to be unscalable for both people and centaurs. But even the real Great Wall wasn't just built for keeping invaders out but for keeping them trapped inside long enough when they were retreating so that the regular army could destroy them. With this in mind separating people from centaurs doesn't seem too important.

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    $\begingroup$ Horses jump more readily than cattle. I think the grid would have to be much wider. Good in principle though. I think doubling or even tripling it would be very effective. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 16 '15 at 7:56
  • $\begingroup$ May work against horses, but Centaurs are intelligent and have arms and hands. They could dimply construct boards and put them over the cattle grids to walk on. $\endgroup$ – Hackworth Aug 17 '15 at 12:34
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Use a very steep vertical approach with a ladder? I would like to see a horse climbing one of those.

enter image description here

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A lot of suggestions are missing a point: What if the goodies want to bring through horses or wagons or something?

I imagine a good old-fashioned moat-drawbridge combination in front of the wall would be the best solution to this.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is an obvious (and correct) solution, but I guess the OP wants something that doesn't require gatekeepers, or the whole question itself makes no sense. $\endgroup$ – o0'. Aug 17 '15 at 12:11
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I think not. Horses cannot reliably walk stairs whereas asses can. Centaurs are both more horselike and more "front-heavy" than asses.

As equestrian I would avoid going downstairs on a horse especially a narrow/stone stair. No margin of error applying hooves or hooves with irons to unyielding stone. Breaking a leg usually is end of story.

Up a short stair in a dangerous situation, yes. Exception breaking the rule.

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  • $\begingroup$ Drywall-hanging stilts on the front legs would let the centaur remain level and walk down the stairs with both pairs of legs in parallel. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 9 '15 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ Look at the friction to see effects with more front-heavy creatures. When force is pushing at an angle you have a downward vector that keeps you stationary and a forward one that pulls you into sliding. Static friction of your feet and the step is overcome by uneven weight and greater angle. Humans have a center of gravity and stairs made with a width to lower these factors. If you had steps that were as wide as half a centuar they would only be going up one at a time instead of around 10. Go to the bottom of a flight of stairs and step down as many steps as you can to feel like a centuar. $\endgroup$ – Black Aug 10 '15 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ Um ---> What about this? (repeated from earlier comment) animalsoureverything.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/… $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 16 '15 at 7:59
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To the title: yes. To the actual body of the question: if you consider someone walking downstairs with another pair of legs behind them (attached to their buttocks) to look stupid, yes.

Two people can walk downstairs together, right? (as in carrying something downstairs that needs to be carried by two people.)

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A low ceiling tunnel

Maybe I'm missing something, but is there a reason why a simple low-ceiling tunnel would not suffice?

Centaurs are not exactly renown for their ability to duck, and likely even a 1.5m high tunnel would be enough to deter them.

Couldn't find an image more akin to this setting…

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  • $\begingroup$ The barrier is supposed to easily accessible to non-Centaur people, which were probably larger than 1.5m even in ancient China. $\endgroup$ – Hackworth Aug 17 '15 at 14:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Hackworth and you can't duck? $\endgroup$ – o0'. Aug 17 '15 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ It's not difficult, really… p-fst2.pixstatic.com/… $\endgroup$ – o0'. Aug 17 '15 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ The keyword is easily. Assuming the Chinese still want to trade with the people from the North or just travel to and fro, that also means horses and carts have to be able to pass the barrier. Can you tell your horse-drawn cart to duck as well? I'm sure you have a .jpg from another surrealist comedy movie to show. $\endgroup$ – Hackworth Aug 17 '15 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Hackworth you want to block centaurs but not horses? Are you serious? $\endgroup$ – o0'. Aug 17 '15 at 14:30

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