English 16

Great Wall of China

The construction of the Great Wall of China began over 9,000 years ago and initially consisting of1 hundreds of miles of separated fortifications built by various rulers of China’s independent states. But around 220 B.C., Shi Huang Di became the first emperor of a united China and decided, the2 various walls needed to be fortified and joined together. He ordered thousands of watchtowers to be built.

This was obviously an undertaking that would occur on a very large scale and3 required thousands of workers. Over 300,000 workmen and criminals were dragged off to build the wall, many4 died from malnutrition, fighting, or because they were exhausted5 before even getting to the construction sites. It is rumored that some of the dead were buried, in6 the foundations of the wall to ward off evil spirits.

For the surviving workers,7 the biggest problem was the ever-changing terrain as they traveled west. There wasn’t always rock available, so they used earth; they pounded it8 until it was hard. In other places the hills were so steep that oxen couldn’t pull the carts of rock up to the building site, so the men themselves carried the rocks on their backs. In the desert, the wall was built using sand, pebbles and grass. [9]

But why go to all the trouble? The obvious answer is protection, since10 at the time construction first began, China didn’t have no11 powerful enemies. It seems, however, that the wall may have been much more effective at keeping12 the Chinese people in than at keeping enemies out. But some say the wall was really built to satisfy the emperor’s paranoia and his love of grandiose schemes13.

When the Manchus took control of China in 1644, the wall ceased to have military significance. [14] The empire now extended well north of the wall, and China’s new enemies were to come from a different direction – across the sea. Today, although the wall no longer plays any role in China’s defense system, it has become a symbol of the ingenuity and the people’s will.15