The Great Wall dates from the reign of Chi Hwangti, the first emperor of the Tsin family. It was begun B.C. 214, and finished in ten years, under the first Han emperor. Some portions, built by the northern feudal chieftains, already existed, and the idea of connecting them occurred to the emperor, who, during his brief occupancy of the throne, made himself odious to the scholars by burning the books and records, in order that the written history of China might begin with his ambitious reign.
The Great Wall is approximately 1500 miles in length. Its dimensions vary in different parts, but at the part usually visited it is from 15 to 30 feet in height, 25 feet wide at the base, and 15 feet at the top, exclusive of the square-towered bastions, which project on the Mongolian side. It is much inferior in size to the wall of Peking.
In some remote parts the wall is a mere earth or stone embankment, but elsewhere it is faced on both sides with solid stone and brick masonry, the middle filled in with earth and stone, on top of which a pavement of large square bricks is laid. Wherever the wall makes steep ascents these bricks are laid in steps. The lower part is built of huge granite blocks well fitted together with mortar, the parapet of large burnt bricks of a grayish-blue color, about fifteen inches in length by eight in width and four in thickness.
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