Great Wall Of China Essay Research Paper

Great Wall Of China Essay, Research Paper

The Great Wall

In the year 221 B.C.E., there was a great ruler over the Ch’in

kingdom in China, named Shih Huang Ti. Shih was power hungry and

wanted more land so he gathered his army and captured the

surrounding kingdoms. As the ruler of so many kingdoms he became

“the first emperor” of China. Shih showed his tyranny when he

burned all history books to insure that his people and future

generations would only remember him and none of the earlier rulers.

He had a strong army but the fierce tribes north of China, the

Mongols and the Huns, were stronger. These nomadic tribes would

come into China and steal crops and animals and then destroy

everything left behind.

Shih was very disturbed with these invasions, so in the year

214 B.C.E. he freed prisoners and gathered workers and herds of

animals. He gave all this to Meng T’ien, his loyal general. Meng

and the men and animals were sent north to fortify Shih’s kingdoms

from invading armies. Shih planned to make a great wall by

extending and enlarging preexisting walls made by previous rulers.

This “great” wall would serve as a barricade to keep out all

tribes that wanted to invade China. It also served to separate the

civilized acts of the farmers in China to the barbaric acts of the

nomadic tribes. What Shih did not know was that the construction

would cause many deaths and much suffering to the builders of the


The wall which Meng and his men created had watchtowers, forty

feet tall, every two hundred yards. The purpose of these towers

was to alert the defending soldiers of approaching, attacking

tribes. The soldiers at the towers signalled to each other by day

using smoke signals, waving flags, blowing horns, and ringing

bells; by night by lighting firework-like objects in the sky. The

wall, itself, was approximately fifteen hundred miles long, thirty

feet high and, at the base, twenty-five feet thick. It was made of

the core of earth and gravel. Actually, it was two walls aligned

with each other and then filled in with a stone base pounded

smooth. The wall traveled over mountains and through valleys. It

went from Liatun, on the coast near Korea, westward to the northern

end on the Yellow River, southward to Lint’ao to close off the

north west area of the empire from the Huns. The great wall is

sometimes compared to a dragon with its head in the east and its

tail in the west and its winding body. The dragon in China is

considered a protective sacredness rather than a destructive

creature. The top of the wall is approximately thirteen feet wide

so six people riding horses could ride side by side along the top.

On the side of the wall there are reliefs, which are two-

dimensional figures on the wall.

The Great Wall of China took hundreds of years to be totally

completed and constantly maintained. As a barricade against

invading armies it was very successful at keeping out unwanted

people. Unfortunately, in the year 1215 AD, the Mongols came down,

under the rule of Genghis Khan, and destroyed major parts of the

wall. It took two years of constant fighting, but the Mongols were

successful at breaking through the wall. Also, many years later,

the Manchus, another strong tribe, penetrated the wall and took

over parts of China.

During the Ming Dynasty( 1368-1644 A.D.), the Great Wall was

repaired by General Xu Da and watchtowers were added by General Qi

Jiguang. Most of what tourists see today was made by these two

generals. During World War II, the Great Wall was used for the

transportation of troops. The Great Wall is so huge that it is the

only man made creation which can be seen from the moon.

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