Great Wall Extends to Xinjiang, 500 km Longer

The Great Wall of China is 500 kilometers longer than the earlier recorded length, according to archeological findings released in Urumqi recently.

The new findings show that the Great Wall extends to the Lop Nur region in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, instead of previously acknowledged Jiayu Pass in Gansu Province.

Lop Nur now is a desolate desert region where China had established nuclear test facilities.

Mu Shunying, a research fellow with the Xinjiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, discovered during a field survey conducted in 1998 an earthen wall stretching from western Yumen Pass in Gansu Province to the northern edge of Lop Nur.

Luo Zhewen, president of the China Society of Cultural Heritage, said, "There is no doubt this is part of the Great Wall as it consists of the city wall and beacon towers, forming a complete defense system."

The wall is identical to the sections at Jiayu Pass and Yumen Pass in terms of architectural style and function. However, this newly found section was made with yellow sandy stone and jarrah branches found locally, he added.

Luo, 77, is China's top Great Wall expert.

Mu said it's obvious that the new finding is a man-made wall built for the purpose of defense, as its shape and size resemble the other sections of the wall. Moreover, a large number of arrowheads have been found near the new site which indicates battles took place nearby, Mu said.

The Great Wall extends to Xinjiang, 500 km Longer. It is a military installation built some 2,000 years ago. It was renovated by numerous dynasties in the years following the Qin Dynasty, when Emperor Qin Shihuang ordered to link up separated wall sections.

With the addition of the new section found in Xinjiang, the total length of the Great Wall would be 7,200 kilometers. The Great Wall was listed as a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1987.

According to historical records, Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty (BC 206 -AD 220) mobilized 600,000 laborers to build a wall from Dunhuang to Yanze, the present site of Lop Nur. The massive construction project is illustrated in frescos at the Dunhuang Grottoes.

During a recent tour to Lop Nur, a Xinhua reporter saw the new section of wall, which undulates westward at heights ranging from one to three meters, with some portions completely missing. The lower part of some of this section is covered by reeds, jarrah and other kinds of plants that live in arid areas.

The portion of the Great Wall in eastern China was made of brick, while most parts of the wall in western China were made of yellow sandy soil and jarrah branches.

Luo said the Great Wall in Xinjiang was built to protect merchants traveling on the ancient Silk Road.

Wang Binghua, a researcher of the Xinjiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, said the Great Wall in Xinjiang runs parallel to the Silk Road.

An official with the State Administration of Cultural Heritage said the state will further investigate this valuable historical site and take measures to protect it.

Experts believe the newly discovered segment of wall is not likely to be the end of the Great Wall, as beacon towers continue to appear along the Kongque River, pass through Wulei, the site of the prefecture government of the western region during the Han Dynasty, and extend to Kashi in southwestern Xinjiang. Eleven beacon towers have been seen at the bank of the Kongque River.

The Lop Nur River, which supplied water for Lou Lan, a busy commercial city on the ancient Silk Road, has dried up and civilization there moved elsewhere in China. The kingdom of Lou Lan was ruled by the government of the Han Dynasty. Troops of the Han Dynasty were stationed in Lou Lan.

(Xinhua 02/22/2001)

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