Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Great Wall

Or at least one small piece of it!

The original wall, built around 700 B.C., was constructed with packed dirt.  Much of the wall that is visible today was rebuilt over the intervening years and by the 1600’s, a large portion was made of brick and stone.

The purpose of both the original and the reconstructed barrier was to protect the Chinese from northern invaders.  The northerners, whose land was far more arid than that of the Chinese, lived a nomadic lifestyle, shepherding their flocks to available water sources.  Their continual movement made it difficult for them to grow crops or make many of the tools and goods that were enjoyed by those in China’s cities.  Sometimes, they were able to barter for the things that they needed, but when negotiations failed, they resorted to raiding to acquire them.  While many thought that the wall had been built as one continuous structure, it began with individual cities that built barrier walls around themselves to protect their granaries.

Overtime, the wall eroded from natural causes and suffered further deterioration from human causes.  A fair amount of this occurred during the Cultural Revolution, when the Red Guard actively worked to dismantle it with dynamite and machinery. 

The last forty years have seen China increasingly open to the West, with an influx of tourism and expansion of business and political relationships.  While businesses will undoubtedly continue to use translation services in China for authoring contracts and other legal documents, the number of U.S. students learning Chinese has tripled in recent years promising a future of improved communication.  The Great Wall has transitioned from a barrier to a landmark.  In 1982, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization declared it a World Heritage Site   and in this century, China has passed laws to protect this monument.   

1 comment :

  1. Isn't it beautiful? The whole idea of the Great Wall fascinates me.