full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Megan Campisi and Pen-Pen Chen: What makes the Great Wall of China so extraordinary

Unscramble the Blue Letters

A 13,000 mile doargn of earth and sntoe wnids its way through the countryside of China with a history almost as long and serpentine as the structure. The gaert Wall began as multiple walls of rmaemd erath bliut by individual feudal states during the cuhnqiu period to protect against nomadic raiders ntorh of China and each other. When Emperor Qin Shi Huang uineifd the states in 221 BCE, the Tibetan Plateau and Pacific Ocean became nuaatrl barriers, but the manuoitns in the north remained vulnerable to Mongol, tkrisuh, and Xiongnu invasions. To defend against them, the Emperor expanded the small walls built by his predecessors, connecting some and fortifying others. As the structures grew from Lintao in the west to Liaodong in the east, they collectively became known as The Long Wall. To accomplish this task, the Emperor enlisted soldiers and commoners, not always voluntarily. Of the hundreds of thousands of brieluds recorded during the Qin Dynasty, many were forcibly conscripted peasants and others were criminals srniveg out sentences. Under the Han dysanty, the wall grew longer still, reaching 3700 miles, and spanning from Dunhuang to the Bohai Sea. Forced lbaor continued under the Han Emperor Han-Wudi , and the walls roatiupetn grew into a notorious place of srffeinug. Poems and ldgeens of the time told of lbeorras beuird in nearby mass graves, or even within the wall itself. And while no hmuan remanis have been found inside, grave pits do indicate that many workers died from accidents, hgeunr and exhaustion. The wall was formidable but not invincible. Both gnhiegs and his son Khublai Khan managed to surmount the wall during the Mongol invasion of the 13th Century. After the Ming dynasty gniead control in 1368, they began to refortify and further consolidate the wall using bricks and stones from local kilns. Averaging 23 feet high and 21 feet wide, the walls 5500 mleis were punctuated by watchtowers. When raeidrs were sghtied, fire and smoke siglans traveled between towers until reinforcements arrived. Small openings along the wall let archers fire on invaders, while larger ones were used to drop stones and more. But even this new and improved wall was not enough. In 1644, northern Manchu clans overthrew the Ming to establish the Qing dynasty, incorporating Mongolia as well, Thus, for the second time, China was ruled by the very pelope the wall had tried to keep out. With the empire's borders now extending beyond the Great Wall, the foiriicnfaotts lost their purospe. And without regular reinforcement, the wall fell into dirpiesar, rammed earth eedrod, while brick and stone were plundered for building materials. But its job wasn't finished. During World War II, China used sections for defense against Japanese invasion, and some prtas are still rrmoued to be used for military training. But the Wall's main purpose today is cultural. As one of the largest man-made structures on Earth, it was granted uecsno wrlod Heritage Status in 1987. Originally built to keep people out of China, the Great Wall now welcomes millions of visitors each year. In fact, the influx of ttisours has caused the wall to deteriorate, leading the Chinese grnvoenmet to launch preservation initiatives. It's also often acclaimed as the only man-made structure visible from space. Unfortunately, that's not at all true. In low Earth orbit, all sorts of structures, like bridges, highways and airports are visible, and the Great Wall is only barely discernible. From the moon, it doesn't stand a chance. But regardless, it's the Earth we should be studying it from because new sections are still dosrecvied every few years, branching off from the main body and expanding this remarkable monument to human achievement.

Open Cloze

A 13,000 mile ______ of earth and _____ _____ its way through the countryside of China with a history almost as long and serpentine as the structure. The _____ Wall began as multiple walls of ______ _____ _____ by individual feudal states during the _______ period to protect against nomadic raiders _____ of China and each other. When Emperor Qin Shi Huang _______ the states in 221 BCE, the Tibetan Plateau and Pacific Ocean became _______ barriers, but the _________ in the north remained vulnerable to Mongol, _______, and Xiongnu invasions. To defend against them, the Emperor expanded the small walls built by his predecessors, connecting some and fortifying others. As the structures grew from Lintao in the west to Liaodong in the east, they collectively became known as The Long Wall. To accomplish this task, the Emperor enlisted soldiers and commoners, not always voluntarily. Of the hundreds of thousands of ________ recorded during the Qin Dynasty, many were forcibly conscripted peasants and others were criminals _______ out sentences. Under the Han _______, the wall grew longer still, reaching 3700 miles, and spanning from Dunhuang to the Bohai Sea. Forced _____ continued under the Han Emperor Han-Wudi , and the walls __________ grew into a notorious place of _________. Poems and _______ of the time told of ________ ______ in nearby mass graves, or even within the wall itself. And while no _____ _______ have been found inside, grave pits do indicate that many workers died from accidents, ______ and exhaustion. The wall was formidable but not invincible. Both _______ and his son Khublai Khan managed to surmount the wall during the Mongol invasion of the 13th Century. After the Ming dynasty ______ control in 1368, they began to refortify and further consolidate the wall using bricks and stones from local kilns. Averaging 23 feet high and 21 feet wide, the walls 5500 _____ were punctuated by watchtowers. When _______ were _______, fire and smoke _______ traveled between towers until reinforcements arrived. Small openings along the wall let archers fire on invaders, while larger ones were used to drop stones and more. But even this new and improved wall was not enough. In 1644, northern Manchu clans overthrew the Ming to establish the Qing dynasty, incorporating Mongolia as well, Thus, for the second time, China was ruled by the very ______ the wall had tried to keep out. With the empire's borders now extending beyond the Great Wall, the ______________ lost their _______. And without regular reinforcement, the wall fell into _________, rammed earth ______, while brick and stone were plundered for building materials. But its job wasn't finished. During World War II, China used sections for defense against Japanese invasion, and some _____ are still _______ to be used for military training. But the Wall's main purpose today is cultural. As one of the largest man-made structures on Earth, it was granted ______ _____ Heritage Status in 1987. Originally built to keep people out of China, the Great Wall now welcomes millions of visitors each year. In fact, the influx of ________ has caused the wall to deteriorate, leading the Chinese __________ to launch preservation initiatives. It's also often acclaimed as the only man-made structure visible from space. Unfortunately, that's not at all true. In low Earth orbit, all sorts of structures, like bridges, highways and airports are visible, and the Great Wall is only barely discernible. From the moon, it doesn't stand a chance. But regardless, it's the Earth we should be studying it from because new sections are still __________ every few years, branching off from the main body and expanding this remarkable monument to human achievement.

Solution

  1. dynasty
  2. buried
  3. tourists
  4. eroded
  5. rammed
  6. sighted
  7. hunger
  8. legends
  9. chunqiu
  10. signals
  11. rumored
  12. builders
  13. unified
  14. government
  15. genghis
  16. labor
  17. raiders
  18. mountains
  19. winds
  20. stone
  21. human
  22. purpose
  23. gained
  24. parts
  25. built
  26. reputation
  27. suffering
  28. dragon
  29. natural
  30. unesco
  31. great
  32. earth
  33. laborers
  34. discovered
  35. serving
  36. people
  37. miles
  38. world
  39. north
  40. disrepair
  41. turkish
  42. remains
  43. fortifications

Original Text

A 13,000 mile dragon of earth and stone winds its way through the countryside of China with a history almost as long and serpentine as the structure. The Great Wall began as multiple walls of rammed earth built by individual feudal states during the Chunqiu period to protect against nomadic raiders north of China and each other. When Emperor Qin Shi Huang unified the states in 221 BCE, the Tibetan Plateau and Pacific Ocean became natural barriers, but the mountains in the north remained vulnerable to Mongol, Turkish, and Xiongnu invasions. To defend against them, the Emperor expanded the small walls built by his predecessors, connecting some and fortifying others. As the structures grew from Lintao in the west to Liaodong in the east, they collectively became known as The Long Wall. To accomplish this task, the Emperor enlisted soldiers and commoners, not always voluntarily. Of the hundreds of thousands of builders recorded during the Qin Dynasty, many were forcibly conscripted peasants and others were criminals serving out sentences. Under the Han Dynasty, the wall grew longer still, reaching 3700 miles, and spanning from Dunhuang to the Bohai Sea. Forced labor continued under the Han Emperor Han-Wudi , and the walls reputation grew into a notorious place of suffering. Poems and legends of the time told of laborers buried in nearby mass graves, or even within the wall itself. And while no human remains have been found inside, grave pits do indicate that many workers died from accidents, hunger and exhaustion. The wall was formidable but not invincible. Both Genghis and his son Khublai Khan managed to surmount the wall during the Mongol invasion of the 13th Century. After the Ming dynasty gained control in 1368, they began to refortify and further consolidate the wall using bricks and stones from local kilns. Averaging 23 feet high and 21 feet wide, the walls 5500 miles were punctuated by watchtowers. When raiders were sighted, fire and smoke signals traveled between towers until reinforcements arrived. Small openings along the wall let archers fire on invaders, while larger ones were used to drop stones and more. But even this new and improved wall was not enough. In 1644, northern Manchu clans overthrew the Ming to establish the Qing dynasty, incorporating Mongolia as well, Thus, for the second time, China was ruled by the very people the wall had tried to keep out. With the empire's borders now extending beyond the Great Wall, the fortifications lost their purpose. And without regular reinforcement, the wall fell into disrepair, rammed earth eroded, while brick and stone were plundered for building materials. But its job wasn't finished. During World War II, China used sections for defense against Japanese invasion, and some parts are still rumored to be used for military training. But the Wall's main purpose today is cultural. As one of the largest man-made structures on Earth, it was granted UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1987. Originally built to keep people out of China, the Great Wall now welcomes millions of visitors each year. In fact, the influx of tourists has caused the wall to deteriorate, leading the Chinese government to launch preservation initiatives. It's also often acclaimed as the only man-made structure visible from space. Unfortunately, that's not at all true. In low Earth orbit, all sorts of structures, like bridges, highways and airports are visible, and the Great Wall is only barely discernible. From the moon, it doesn't stand a chance. But regardless, it's the Earth we should be studying it from because new sections are still discovered every few years, branching off from the main body and expanding this remarkable monument to human achievement.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
great wall 3
rammed earth 2

Important Words

  1. accidents
  2. acclaimed
  3. accomplish
  4. achievement
  5. airports
  6. archers
  7. arrived
  8. averaging
  9. barely
  10. barriers
  11. bce
  12. began
  13. body
  14. bohai
  15. borders
  16. branching
  17. brick
  18. bricks
  19. bridges
  20. builders
  21. building
  22. built
  23. buried
  24. caused
  25. century
  26. chance
  27. china
  28. chinese
  29. chunqiu
  30. clans
  31. collectively
  32. commoners
  33. connecting
  34. conscripted
  35. consolidate
  36. continued
  37. control
  38. countryside
  39. criminals
  40. cultural
  41. defend
  42. defense
  43. deteriorate
  44. died
  45. discernible
  46. discovered
  47. disrepair
  48. dragon
  49. drop
  50. dunhuang
  51. dynasty
  52. earth
  53. east
  54. emperor
  55. enlisted
  56. eroded
  57. establish
  58. exhaustion
  59. expanded
  60. expanding
  61. extending
  62. fact
  63. feet
  64. fell
  65. feudal
  66. finished
  67. fire
  68. forced
  69. forcibly
  70. formidable
  71. fortifications
  72. fortifying
  73. gained
  74. genghis
  75. government
  76. granted
  77. grave
  78. graves
  79. great
  80. grew
  81. han
  82. heritage
  83. high
  84. highways
  85. history
  86. huang
  87. human
  88. hundreds
  89. hunger
  90. ii
  91. improved
  92. incorporating
  93. individual
  94. influx
  95. initiatives
  96. invaders
  97. invasion
  98. invasions
  99. invincible
  100. japanese
  101. job
  102. khan
  103. khublai
  104. kilns
  105. labor
  106. laborers
  107. larger
  108. largest
  109. launch
  110. leading
  111. legends
  112. liaodong
  113. lintao
  114. local
  115. long
  116. longer
  117. lost
  118. main
  119. managed
  120. manchu
  121. mass
  122. materials
  123. mile
  124. miles
  125. military
  126. millions
  127. ming
  128. mongol
  129. mongolia
  130. monument
  131. moon
  132. mountains
  133. multiple
  134. natural
  135. nearby
  136. nomadic
  137. north
  138. northern
  139. notorious
  140. ocean
  141. openings
  142. orbit
  143. originally
  144. overthrew
  145. pacific
  146. parts
  147. peasants
  148. people
  149. period
  150. pits
  151. place
  152. plateau
  153. plundered
  154. poems
  155. predecessors
  156. preservation
  157. protect
  158. punctuated
  159. purpose
  160. qin
  161. qing
  162. raiders
  163. rammed
  164. reaching
  165. recorded
  166. refortify
  167. regular
  168. reinforcement
  169. reinforcements
  170. remained
  171. remains
  172. remarkable
  173. reputation
  174. ruled
  175. rumored
  176. sea
  177. sections
  178. sentences
  179. serpentine
  180. serving
  181. shi
  182. sighted
  183. signals
  184. small
  185. smoke
  186. soldiers
  187. son
  188. sorts
  189. space
  190. spanning
  191. stand
  192. states
  193. status
  194. stone
  195. stones
  196. structure
  197. structures
  198. studying
  199. suffering
  200. surmount
  201. task
  202. thousands
  203. tibetan
  204. time
  205. today
  206. told
  207. tourists
  208. towers
  209. training
  210. traveled
  211. true
  212. turkish
  213. unesco
  214. unified
  215. visible
  216. visitors
  217. voluntarily
  218. vulnerable
  219. wall
  220. walls
  221. war
  222. watchtowers
  223. welcomes
  224. west
  225. wide
  226. winds
  227. workers
  228. world
  229. xiongnu
  230. year
  231. years