AlreadyDead (psykoboy2) wrote,

The Seven Wonders Of The Middle Ages: Part 3

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<center><big<b><u>The Great Wall Of China</big></b></u>

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<lj-cut>Let's get one fact straight before we begin. While the Great Wall of China is indeed the largest man-made thing on our planet, it is not visible from the moon, as so many believed for so long. NASA points out explicitly that the wall is hard to see from the space shuttle, let alone from the lunar satellite.

Having gotten that out of the way, this huge barrier does indeed boasts some serious statistics. It extends for 1,678 miles from east to west, but if early sections are included, the total length - owing to loops at various points, and segments where there are double, triple, and even quadruple walls - amounts to some 6,214 miles, or more than a fifth of the earth's circumference.

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Shi Huangdi, first ruler of a unified China, conceived some 22 centuries ago the notion of connecting existing ramparts into a monolith that would allow the vigilance necessary to comfort an emperor. Smoke signals by day and fire by night would announce intruders. The backbreaking labor was carried out by captured foes - China's main enemies of the time were nomadic tribes of the northern steppes - plus any peasants who were not vital to agricultural needs. Soldiers stationed along the wall performed the double function of guarding against belligerents and keeping the workers busy at their posts. It is said that for every new yard of construction, there was a corresponding fatality. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) an epic renovation was performed, leaving the wall in a state similar to its present form.

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The rest of the tale of the tape is as follows: The wall is 19 feet wide at its base and 15 feet at its top. It stands nearly 30 feet high, and there are gatehouses at varying intervals and watchtowers about 230 feet apart. The wall has long served its purpose by frustrating countless potential attackers from the north. Along the way, it has further contributed to the nation as an important icon in popular Chinese culture, the stuff of myth, poem and even opera.
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