Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Great Wall...

...Even Greater

The Great Wall of China is even longer than previously thought, according to the first detailed survey to establish the length of the ancient barricade.

A two-year government mapping study found that the wall spans 8,850km (5,500 miles) - until now, the length was commonly put at about 5,000km. Previous estimates of its length were mainly based on historical records.

Infra-red and GPS technologies helped locate some areas concealed over time by sandstorms, state media said. The project found that there were wall sections of 6,259km, 359km of trenches, and 2,232km of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers. The study was carried out by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping.

The wall, the world's largest man-made structure, was built to protect the northern border of the Chinese Empire. Archaeologists had lobbied for the survey to be done to provide scholars with an accurate understanding of the construction.

Known to the Chinese as the "long Wall of 10,000 Li", the Great Wall is in fact a series of walls and earthen works begun in the 5th Century BC and first linked up under Qin Shi Huang in about 220BC. It was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site in 1987.
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I always found it ironic that Henkel (a German company) was sponsoring the restoration of the Great Wall of China while a few months later the Berlin Wall was coming down (9 November 1989)