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Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Great Wall

Posted by Worldouristattractions On 05:06 No comments

China’s mandatory, must-see sight, the Great Wall (Chángchéng) wriggles fitfully from its scattered remains in Liáoníng province to Jiāyùguān in the Gobi Desert.


The ‘original’ wall was begun over 2000 years ago during the Qin dynasty (221–207 BC), when China was unified under Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Separate walls that had been constructed by independent kingdoms to keep out marauding nomads were linked together. The effort required hundreds of thousands of workers – many of whom were political prisoners – and 10 years of hard labour under General Meng Tian. An estimated 180 million cubic metres of rammed earth was used to form the core of the original wall, and legend has it that one of the building materials used was the bones of deceased workers.

The wall never really did perform its function as an impenetrable line of defence. As Genghis Khan supposedly said, ‘The strength of a wall depends on the courage of those who defend it’. Sentries could be bribed. However, it did work very well as a kind of elevated highway, transporting people and equipment across mountainous terrain. Its beacon tower system, using smoke signals generated by burning wolves’ dung, quickly transmitted news of enemy movements back to the capital. To the west was Jiāyùguān, an important link on the Silk Road, where there was a customs post of sorts and where unwanted Chinese were ejected through the gates to face the terrifying wild west.


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