-- CONSTRUCTION OF THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA --
Great Wall depicts beautiful curves of mountains ridges meandering
along high mountains and deep valleys with its hundreds of passes
and fortified castles. It is really magnificent. However, mountains,
ravines, grasslands and deserts along the course charted out for
the wall made construction a challenging task.
The government spared no money or manpower to build
or rebuild the Great Wall, using the insurmountable barriers, deep
moats and fortified castles of the wall to defend itself. The Ming
period saw the creation of a sophisticated defense system along
the wall embracing garrison towns, garrison posts, passes, blockhouses,
additional wall structures, watchtowers and beacon towers, each
given a different status and designed mission.
The Labor Force
The labor force used by various dynasties for the construction of
the walls was no less impressive. The well-organized defenses of
the Great Wall were built by the arduous work of millions of workers.
In addition to the frontier soldiers, the builders included conscripted
laborers and convicts in exile. For example, when the Great Wall
was first brought together under the direction of General Meng
Tian over a period of 10 years during the Qin dynasty, 300,000 troops
were used. Later, a 450-kilometre section of the wall was
built from Nankou, Beijing, to Datong, Shanxi, in 555 A.D. under
the Northern Qi dynasty, for which 1.8 million people were forced
to join the ranks of the laborers.
Varied Terrain and Peculiar Structure
Indigenous material was used for building almost all the sections
of the wall. Earth, rocks and logs were used in the earlier
periods. On a mountain the builders would quarry the rocks locally.
On a plain they would gather earth and mix it with lime and mud
before compressing the material between wooden boards. Most of
the sections built in the Ming period were composed of bricks fired
in nearby kilns.