Ancient China

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 wall. 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.

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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. THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA Mrs. Ruchlin 7-K
3/12/92 BIBLIOGRAPHY Delahoye, H.. Drege, J.P..

Wilson, Dick. Zewen, Lou. THE GREAT WALL. New
York: Warwick Press, 1987 Huang, Ray. CHINA A
MACRO HISTORY. New York: M.E. Sharp Publishers,
1988 Huges-Stanton, Penelope. AN ANCIENT CHINESE
TOWN. New York: Warwick Press, 1986 Kalman,
Bobbie. CHINA THE LAND. New York: Crabtree
Publishing Company, 1989 Kan, Lao Po. THE ANCIENT
CHINESE. London: Macdonald Educational Holywell
House, 1981 Nancarrow, Peter. EARLY CHINA AND
THE WALL. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company,
1980 Overbeck, Cynthia. Thompson, Brenda. THE
GREAT WALL OF CHINA. Minneapolis: Lerner
Publications Company, 1977 Toy, Sydney. A HISTORY
OF FORTIFICATION. London: William Heinemann, 1955
Category: History


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