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History Of Qin Dynasty And The First Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di; The Wall's Purpose, Facts About The Laborers, And Its Building Process. Mla Format Works Consulted Included

1498 words - 6 pages

The Great Wall of China: Thesis-based Research EssayAnyone can identify The Great Wall of China. It is considered to be the Eighth Wonder of the World, and it is also the only man-made structure that can be viewed from the Earth's orbit, contrary to the belief that it can be seen from the Moon. Silverberg states, "It is a monster of stone... It sprawls over valleys, up the steep mountainsides, through the thirsty deserts. It dances on the summits of towering peaks, reaching for the highest pinnacles. It stretches on and on, a grayish-blue streak, a ribbon in the distance, striking toward the horizon." (x) The 1,850 mile long wall would run across the U.S. from Los Angeles to the banks of the ...view middle of the document...

As his empire grew, he needed some sort of defense system to keep his boundaries straight. He realized that connecting the old walls built during the Era of the Warring States and constructing extensions would not only keep his people from foreign influences, but it would keep the northern invaders out (Silverberg 27). His gigantic army also had nobody to fight since Shi Huang-di had conquered all states, and he knew that hordes of restless men who knew how to battle roaming his empire could be potentially dangerous to his people and his throne. He needed something for them to work on. But even his massive army could not complete the project alone. Therefore, Shi Huang-di assigned his trusted General Meng Tian to control the labor force to build what is now the largest manmade construction. (Shaughnessy 216).General Tian, who accepted the task, arranged a labor force of 300,000 made of mostly soldiers from Shi Huang-di's army and peasants plucked from their homes (Silverberg 29) and the force was enlarged by criminals, civil servants, and other draftees (Shaughnessy 216). They worked in shifts of 6 hours twice a day per worker, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week through the sizzling summer sun, pelting rainstorms, harsh sandstorms, and freezing winter snow. Through thick and thin, the workers made bricks, pounded earth, dug trenches, and laid down materials one at a time. The captains of the army worked as overseers, and there are many accounts of their brutality. For example, if one man collapsed of exhaustion, his whole team would be sent to prison camps located along the wall where they were severely punished for not being on task ("The Great Wall of China is Built" 3). Punishments included cutting off fingers and toes, whippings, or burning appendixes on brick baking kilns. Thirty-four bases were placed along the wall, acting as regional headquarters and food storage. Since there weren't any farms located near the build sites, food had to be sent from farming villages hundreds of miles away, and often did not reach the builders because of bandits or spoilage. (Silverberg 30). The workers were poorly nourished; the meals included a small amount of steamed rice mixed with barley, water from natural springs, and boiled plants found in the mountains. Many workers perished because of the low nutritional value of the meals and overworking, yet for every man that died, Tian found three more workers to replace him. This leads to the question of how and with what materials from the sparse environment thousands of workers managed to build the Great Wall in just 7 years.The wall was created with anything attained from the surroundings. Most parts of the wall were built on a foundation of layers of earth. The process began with a simple wooden frame. Workers filled the frame with loose earth, which was then pounded into a layer that was 4 inches thick. The process was repeated layer upon layer, and the wall slowly rose four inches at a time ("The Great...

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