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'The Piano Guys' scales the Great Wall for video shoot

Internet sensation, the Piano Guys are in China. The Utah-based group took some precious time off their Asian tour in Singapore and Malaysia to fulfil their China dream - shooting a music video on the Great Wall of China...

September 16, 2013
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Great Wall Forest Festival kicks off

The 2013 Yanqing Great Wall Forest Festival, the fourth edition of its kind, was held from August 24 to August 25 in the Tanglewood Music Valley at the foot of the Great Wall Badaling Section in Beijing's Yanqing County...

August 29, 2013
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Jet Team above the Great Wall

Aircraft of Breitling Jet Team, a famous European aerobatic team, perform above the Great Wall of the Jiayuguan Pass in northwest China's Gansu Province, Aug. 13, 2013...

August 16, 2013
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Unique section of the Great Wall draws in visitors

As people all know what the Great Wall looks like but did you know that some of it is built over water? The Jiumenkou section of the wall in Liaoning Province in North East China is famous for just that...

  August 09, 2013
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The Secrets of Building the Great Wall

Secrets of the Construction of the Qin Wall

As the wall inched across the Chinese wilderness, its builders were forced to rely upon local materials. Much of the Qin wall was built with dry-laid native stone, but where stone was scarce, engineers built the wall from layers of compacted earth. The tamped-earth process began with a simple wooden frame. Workers filled the frame with loose earth, which was then tamped into a compact layer 4 inches thick. The process was repeated layer upon layer, and the wall slowly rose 4 inches at a time.

Secrets of the Construction of the Han Wall

In the arid Gobi Desert, the poor quality of the sandy soil and the lack of brick and stone, forced Han builders to resort to an ancient and painstaking method of wall construction. First, they laid a bed of red willow reeds and twigs at the bottom of a wooden frame, then they filled the frame with a mixture of water and fine gravel, which was tamped solid. When the mixture had thoroughly dried, the wooden frame was removed, leaving behind a solid slab of tamped earth, strengthened by the willow reeds just as modern concrete is reinforced by steel rods.

The Han also added beacon towers to the Wall, spaced 15 to 30 miles apart. Columns of smoke were used to warn defenders of an attack. One smoke column meant an outpost was being threatened by a force of fewer than 500 troops; two columns meant an attacking force of fewer than 3,000, and so on. The Han found the beacon system relayed messages faster than a rider on a horse.

Secrets of the Construction of the Ming Wall

The Ming period pushed wall-building technologies to the limit. The Ming wall snakes acrobatically across some of China's most forbidding terrain, rising in places at an angle of 70 degrees.

The Ming Wall was built mainly of brick, stone or the two materials in mixture. The wall body was surfaced with bricks or long narrow stones; the chinks were filled with lime mortar so even and tight that grass and shrubs were difficult to root in them; along the top, a channel was opened to drain rain water and protect the wall.

While in the Loess Plateau region of northwestern China, the Ming Wall was largely built of rammed earth or adobe, comparable to brick and stone in solid durability. For example, the Jiayuguan section in Gansu was made of loess specially carried from Heishan Hill some dozen km west of the Pass; the earth was tamped compact with ram impressions tightly connected with each other so as to prevent the wall body from deformation and break.

Such dramatic engineering wouldn't have been possible without the Ming's advanced brick-making technology. At a time when European builders were still relying upon cumbersome cut stone, the Ming were using state-of-the-art kilns to mass produce bricks, which were as strong as modern-day masonry blocks.

Along the Great Wall, castles were built at road intersections of strategic significance, dangerous defiles and junctions between the mountain and the seaboard for transportation and defense purpose. When the wall crossed over a river, a water gate would be constructed beneath the wall body to let the stream flow on.

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