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2008-08-05 11:15  来源:     我要纠错 打印 收藏   

The Great Wall of China.

  1. Like a snake, it winds across China. From its starting point below sea level, it climbs west for nearly 1500 miles. This is the Great Wall of China. It is one of the engineering wonders of the world. Yet it was built 2200 years ago.

  2. The story of the Great Wall is the story of Emperor Chin Shih-huang, who thought of it. And- it is the story of millions of Chinese who worked—and died''—to build it.

  3. In 246 B.C., Chin, at the age of 13, became king of one of the many states in China. The states were warring with each other, the rulers fighting for power. Chin was ambitious. He set out to bind the states into an empire—his empire. By 221 B.C. he had succeeded.

  4. Emperor Chin knew that the men he had defeated would want to overthrow him. So he brought 120,000 of the richest and most powerful to his capital. In a sense, they were prisoners. But Chin built palaces for them just like those they had left. They lived in glory as lord of his court.

  5. The emperor''s own palace was the largest and richest of all. It had thousands of rooms and separate apartments for the emperor''s wives, some of the most beautiful women in the empire.

  6. Even with all this wealth, Chin lived in fear. Always present was the danger from the north. For 500 years northern barbarians had raided the farms of the Chinese. The raids of the savage horsemen were sudden—and they were terrible.

  7. Chin could think of only one way to stop the raids. That was a giant wall. It had to be so big that no horseman could jump over it or ride around it. So the Great Wall was begun.

  8. To build the Wall, Chin needed millions of workers. Almost no able-bodied person in China escaped the call to work. Men who had never held a tool in their hands were sent to the stone pits. Murderers and thieves were made to work—the Wall became the empire''s jail. Cruel masters with whips kept the workers on the job. And those who got sick were left to die.

  9. The Wall began at the Gulf of Chihli. From there the workers cut out two trenches, 25 feet apart. They laid stone squares and bricks in the trenches to a height of 20 feet. The stones and bricks became the sides of the Wall. The space between was then filled with earth and paved with bricks. The top of the Wall became a roadway for horses (wide enough for two of today''s automobiles). Then the workers built up the sides of the Wall even higher.

  10. Over the first 300 miles the workers did not find a level stretch for weeks at a time. Up the steep hills they dragged the heavy stone, their backs bearing the blows of the masters'' whips. With little to eat and only rotting bits of cloth to wear, many became sick and died. Families of the workers sent messengers with food and clothes. But few messengers reached the Wall. They were afraid they, too, would be made to work.

  11. West of Peking, the builders struck sticky clay. Here they chained heavy logs and dragged them into place to make a mold for the Wall. In between the rows of logs they dumped the soil. A long line of workers, each carrying two baskets of earth hung from a bamboo pole, filled the roadway. Others packed it down. As each stretch was finished, they hauled down the wooden mold and moved on. The Wall stood, made only of hard-packed clay.

  12. Every 200 yards or so, towers 35 to 40 feet high were built. Here soldiers with bows and arrows were left to defend the Wall. About every mile, block-houses were built to house the soldiers who guarded it.

  13. Month after month, year after year, the Wall progressed. It swept in daring curves, climbed mountains, dropped into valleys, leaped rivers. Work on the Wall stopped at a 200-foot cliff hanging over a foaming white river.

  14. How long did it take to build the Wall? No one can tell for sure. It is known that Chin used millions of workers. Also he made use of many miles of walls already built. So it is possible that the job may have taken only 18 years.

  15. Engineers say that the Great Wall is one of the greatest works of man. And for a long while, it did its job. It kept out the wild horsemen of the north for more than 1400 years.

  16. The Wall we see today is not wholly that of Emperor Chin. It was worked on in later years, mostly between 1380 and 1644. Parts of it are in good condition. Other parts, nearly covered by sand, rise only a few feet above the desert. Yet the Great Wall still stands. Here is a lasting record of one man''s desire for power—and the work of unknown millions.

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