The Great Wall of China Around 220 BC the Chinese state of Qin conquered the warring factions ofthe then divided area we now call China. Through fierce battle and thefirstChinese use of cavalry, the Qins were able to defeat the kingdoms ofHan,Sung,Yen, Yueh, Qi, Chou, Chao, Chu, Wei, Wey, Wu, and Lu andsuccessfully ended the Chou dynasty. After successfully conquering all of China,Li Su, the leader of the Qin, changed his name to Shih Huang Ti meaning firstemperor. Shih Huang Ti faced many problems trying to unify the new empire. Hetried to solve these problems by making one standard currency and a system ofweights andmeasures. He also brought China into imperialistic rule, replacingfeudalism. One of the most threatening troubles was the fact that Mongolmarauders on horseback made frequent raids on China's northern border. The Emperor of the Qins , Shih Huang Ti, devised a way to stop theMongols from attacking China. He decided to connect and fortify the small wallsthat existed in northern China. Along these walls he resolved to build a wall,larger and stronger than any wall that then existed. He forced convicts,musicians, teachers, writers, artists, peasants and soldiers to work on buildingShihHuangsTi's dream of an incredible wall that would last for a thousandgenerations. The musicians, teachers, writers, and artists were included in thelabor force because Shih Huang Ti was jealous of their intellect. The first wave of workers consisted of 700,000 laborers and 300,000soldiers. Many were put to work fi and strengthening the existing walls. Theother workers labored at building the new wall. Some shaped large mounds ofearth using bamboo poles as a support. The others made clay bricks and stoneblocks and attached them to the sides and top of the wall. Every hundred yardsthe slaves constructed two story high watchtowers to detect incoming Mongol
raiders. Building the wall was a hazardous and dangerous job. Many died inaccidents and others died of disease and malnutrition. The builders had anextremely hard life. Those who complained or tried to run away were beaten,whipped, and buried alive inside the wall to add thickness. Those who diednaturally or from other causes were also placed inside of the wall. After ten yearsof hard labor, in the year 204 BC, the wall was finally finished. The Mongols wereto stay out of China forever!Geography and Dimensions The Great Wall of China still exists today and still stands strong. It stretchesfor 1,500 miles along the border of China Proper. The wall reaches from the Gulfof China in eastern China to the Gansu province in the west. There is a lesserinner wall that runs from Beijing to Handan. Most of the wall was constructed inthe Qin dynasty but there were some improvements made in the Ming dynasty,when the wall was refortified with new material. The Great Wall was one of the most incredible man-made structures everconceived. The amount of material used to build the main wall alone is enough tocircle the equator of the earth five times. It is 15 to 30 feet thick at the base and20 on average. It is twelve feet thick at the top. It is around 25 feet high in the airand each watchtower adds an additional 40 feet in height to the wall. The GreatWall of China is the only man made object that can be seen from the moon withthe naked eye. Modern Usage The Great Wall is no longer used for defensive purposes. It is now a majortourist attraction. The Wall, which is one of the world's most famous man-madestructures, is the largest draw of tourism in China. Under communist rule, largeportions of the Wall have been restored. The Great Wall, with its bloody andglorious history, is truly one of mankind's greatest achievements.