A Travel Journal - China Part 2: Beijing, The Great Wall, Ming Dynasty Tombs

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Unlike the earlier fortifications, the Ming construction was stronger and more elaborate due to the use of bricks and stone instead of rammed earth. Up to 25, watchtowers are estimated to have been constructed on the wall. Sections near the Ming capital of Beijing were especially strong. Similar in function to the Great Wall whose extension, in a sense, it was , but more basic in construction, the Liaodong Wall enclosed the agricultural heartland of the Liaodong province, protecting it against potential incursions by Jurched-Mongol Oriyanghan from the northwest and the Jianzhou Jurchens from the north.

While stones and tiles were used in some parts of the Liaodong Wall, most of it was in fact simply an earth dike with moats on both sides. Towards the end of the Ming, the Great Wall helped defend the empire against the Manchu invasions that began around Even after the loss of all of Liaodong , the Ming army held the heavily fortified Shanhai Pass , preventing the Manchus from conquering the Chinese heartland. The Manchus were finally able to cross the Great Wall in , after Beijing had already fallen to Li Zicheng 's rebels. Before this time, the Manchus had crossed the Great Wall multiple times to raid, but this time it was for conquest.

The gates at Shanhai Pass were opened on May 25 by the commanding Ming general, Wu Sangui , who formed an alliance with the Manchus, hoping to use the Manchus to expel the rebels from Beijing. Under Qing rule, China's borders extended beyond the walls and Mongolia was annexed into the empire, so constructions on the Great Wall were discontinued. On the other hand, the so-called Willow Palisade , following a line similar to that of the Ming Liaodong Wall, was constructed by the Qing rulers in Manchuria.

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Its purpose, however, was not defense but rather to prevent Han Chinese migration into Manchuria. He associated it with the legend of the wall mentioned in the Qur'an , [42] which Dhul-Qarnayn commonly associated with Alexander the Great was said to have erected to protect people near the land of the rising sun from the savages of Gog and Magog. However, Ibn Battuta could find no one who had either seen it or knew of anyone who had seen it, suggesting that although there were remnants of the wall at that time, they were not significant.

Soon after Europeans reached Ming China by ship in the early 16th century, accounts of the Great Wall started to circulate in Europe, even though no European was to see it for another century. Possibly one of the earliest European descriptions of the wall and of its significance for the defense of the country against the " Tartars " i. When China opened its borders to foreign merchants and visitors after its defeat in the First and Second Opium Wars , the Great Wall became a main attraction for tourists. The travelogues of the later 19th century further enhanced the reputation and the mythology of the Great Wall.

A formal definition of what constitutes a "Great Wall" has not been agreed upon, making the full course of the Great Wall difficult to describe in its entirety. From Jiayu Pass the wall travels discontinuously down the Hexi Corridor and into the deserts of Ningxia , where it enters the western edge of the Yellow River loop at Yinchuan. Here the first major walls erected during the Ming dynasty cut through the Ordos Desert to the eastern edge of the Yellow River loop.

The sections of the Great Wall around Beijing municipality are especially famous: they were frequently renovated and are regularly visited by tourists today. The Badaling Great Wall near Zhangjiakou is the most famous stretch of the Wall, for this is the first section to be opened to the public in the People's Republic of China, as well as the showpiece stretch for foreign dignitaries.

Made of stone and bricks from the hills, this portion of the Great Wall is 7. One of the most striking sections of the Ming Great Wall is where it climbs extremely steep slopes in Jinshanling. Southeast of Jinshanling is the Mutianyu Great Wall which winds along lofty, cragged mountains from the southeast to the northwest for 2. It is connected with Juyongguan Pass to the west and Gubeikou to the east. This section was one of the first to be renovated following the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. Beyond Jiumenkou, an offshoot known as the Liaodong Wall continues through Liaoning province.

Before the use of bricks, the Great Wall was mainly built from rammed earth, stones, and wood. During the Ming, however, bricks were heavily used in many areas of the wall, as were materials such as tiles, lime , and stone. The size and weight of the bricks made them easier to work with than earth and stone, so construction quickened.

Additionally, bricks could bear more weight and endure better than rammed earth.

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Stone can hold under its own weight better than brick, but is more difficult to use. Consequently, stones cut in rectangular shapes were used for the foundation, inner and outer brims , and gateways of the wall. From the parapets, guards could survey the surrounding land. Signal towers were built upon hill tops or other high points along the wall for their visibility. Wooden gates could be used as a trap against those going through.

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Barracks, stables, and armories were built near the wall's inner surface. While portions north of Beijing and near tourist centers have been preserved and even extensively renovated, in many other locations the Wall is in disrepair. The wall sometimes provided a source of stones to build houses and roads. Various square lookout towers that characterize the most famous images of the wall have disappeared. Many western sections of the wall are constructed from mud , rather than brick and stone, and thus are more susceptible to erosion.

The work has been much criticized. One of the earliest known references to the myth that the Great Wall can be seen from the moon appears in a letter written in by the English antiquary William Stukeley. NASA claims that it is barely visible, and only under nearly perfect conditions; it is no more conspicuous than many other man-made objects.

Veteran U. And you have to know where to look. Leroy Chiao , a Chinese-American astronaut, took a photograph from the International Space Station that shows the wall. It was so indistinct that the photographer was not certain he had actually captured it. Based on the photograph, the China Daily later reported that the Great Wall can be seen from 'space' with the naked eye, under favorable viewing conditions, if one knows exactly where to look.

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Mutianyu Great Wall. This is atop the wall on a section that has not been restored. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Great Wall disambiguation. The Ming dynasty Great Wall at Jinshanling. Main article: History of the Great Wall of China. Further information: Great Wall of Qi. Main article: Ming Great Wall.

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Ming wall near Yinchuan. The Great Wall at Yulin. The Great Wall at Badaling. The Juyongguan area of the Great Wall accepts numerous tourists each day. Gateway of Gubeikou Fortress.

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  • Ming Great Wall at Simatai , overlooking the gorge. June 5, Retrieved June 6, Martin's Press of Macmillan Publishers. Beginning as separate sections of fortification around the 7th century B. E and unified during the Qin Dynasty in the 3rd century B.

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    E, this wall, built of earth and rubble with a facing of brick or stone, runs from east to west across China for over 4, miles. Large parts of the fortification system date from the 7th through the 4th century BC. In the 3rd century BC Shihuangdi Qin Shi Huang , the first emperor of a united China under the Qin dynasty , connected a number of existing defensive walls into a single system. April 20, Retrieved April 20, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. June 6, September 20, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.

    Retrieved January 22, Winborn University of North Texas Press. The Legislative Yuan of the Republic of China. Archived from the original on April 25, Beijing: Wuzhou Publishing. Retrieved October 24, Paul and Bernice Noll's Window on the World. Retrieved July 26, The Irish Times. Retrieved February 28, Great Wall of China. Archived from the original on March 9, Journal of Asian Studies 59, no. April Retrieved February 29, Translated from the Latin by William Woodville Rockhill.

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    London: The Hakluyt Society. Palmer 's, and the Progressive Muslims Organization 's. Lisbon: Lisboa. II, Ch. Retrieved September 15, It is named after Jiaoshan Mountain, which is the highest peak to the north of Shanhai Pass and also the first mountain the Great Wall climbs up after Shanhai Pass. Global Times. October 14, Retrieved December 4, Irish News. Create my newsfeed. This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising.

    By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy. In pictures: Mummified human remains found in Ming Dynasty tomb. Royal Tomb.

    A mummy is seen at a Ming dynasty royal tomb on June 12, An archaeologist point to details on the mummy's covering in the tomb. Archaeologists work at a Ming dynasty royal tomb in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province. Hair clasps from the Ming dynasty royal tomb.

    The mummy in the royal tomb found in a residential area of the city. Archaeologists at work on the royal tomb this week. Short URL. About the author:. About the author. Susan Ryan. See more articles by Susan Ryan. Contribute to this story: Send a Correction. Read next:. Your Email. Recipient's Email. Your Feedback. Your Email optional. Report a Comment. Please select the reason for reporting this comment. Please select your reason for reporting Please give full details of the problem with the comment