The Great Wall: Symbol of a Closed Society

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Part 3: Symbol of the Closed Society

Hundreds of thousands of people were forced into slavery and commanded to help build the Wall. Such labor was needed not only because the project was so big, but also because the emperor didn't want his army to spend all their time building the Wall. He needed the army to enforce his will on the people.

The emperor was a cruel man who ruled his people with an iron will and harsh laws. People who spoke out against the government disappeared or were forced to help build the Wall. Books the emperor didn't like were burned.

The emperor also forced 700,000 workers to build his tomb. They worked for 34 years before the project was finished. The recently discovered tomb also yielded one of archaeology's most impressive finds ever: an army of 7,000 terra-cotta soldiers. The soldiers were standing guard over the emperor's tomb.

Photo: Discovery Channel Online

Future dynasties continued to expand the Great Wall. The Ming Dynasty, which began in 1368, built more of the Wall than any previous dynasties. These rulers also realized what, for them, what was the true purpose of the Wall: containment. Exposure to the outside world came to a halt during the 15th Century, and China turned its focus inward.

The Great Wall did keep invaders out of China. It also kept Chinese people in China.

First page > The Wall Gets Longer > Page 1, 2, 3

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