The Great Wall: Symbol of a Closed Society

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Part 2: History of the Wall

Photo: Chin Dynasty Online Sourcebook

The Great Wall was officially begun in 221 B.C. A man named Shi Huang-ti united all the warring states into one country, called China. This was China's first empire and its first dynasty. One of his first great projects of the Chin Dynasty was building a wall to protect this new country from outside invaders.

Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to work on the Wall. They built it over incredibly varied terrain. Some parts of the wall are in lowlands and desert; other parts are atop tall, sloping hills. Older walls were reinforced, and new walls were built. Most of the wall was made of stone. In some parts, wooden frames were filled with stone.

It isn't one long wall, however. The Great Wall is a series of walls, some older than others, connected by watchtowers. These watchtowers enabled soldiers to see out over enemy territory, and the walking space on the top of the wall allowed troops to be transported quickly from place to place.

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