Potala Palace And Angkor Wat And Great Wall of China

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The Potala Palace is located in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China. It is named after Mount Potalaka, the mythical abode of Chenresig or Avalokitesvara. The Potala Palace was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, India, during the 1959 Tibetan uprisingSony VAIO VPCE1Z1E battery.

Lozang Gyatso, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, started the construction of the Potala Palace in 1645[2] after one of his spiritual advisers, Konchog Chophel (d. 1646), pointed out that the site was ideal as a seat of government, situated as it is between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa.[3] It may overlay the remains of an earlier fortress, called the White or Red Palace, Sony VAIO VPCEA12EA/BI battery on the site built by Songtsen Gampo in 637.[5] Today, the Potala Palace is a museum.

The building measures 400 metres east-west and 350 metres north-south, with sloping stone walls averaging 3 m. thick, and 5 m. (more than 16 ft) thick at the base, and with copper poured into the foundations to help proof it against earthquakes.[6] Thirteen stories of buildings – containing over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and about 200,000 statues – soar 117 metresSony VAIO VPCEA12EG/WI battery (384 ft) on top of Marpo Ri, the "Red Hill", rising more than 300 m (about 1,000 ft) in total above the valley floor.[7]

Tradition has it that the three main hills of Lhasa represent the "Three Protectors of Tibet." Chokpori, just to the south of the Potala, is the soul-mountain (bla-ri) of Vajrapani, Pongwari that of Manjushri, and Marpori, the hill on which the Potala stands, represents Chenresig or AvalokiteshvaraSony VAIO VPCEA12EH/WI battery.

History

The former quarters of the Dalai Lama. The figure in the throne represents Tenzin Gyatso, the incumbent Dalai Lama

The site on which the Potala Palace rises is built over a palace erected by Songtsän Gampo on the Red Hill.[9] The Potala contains two chapels on its the northwest corner that conserve parts of the original building. One is the Phakpa LhakhangSony VAIO VPCEA12EN/BI battery, the other the Chogyel Drupuk, a recessed cavern identified as Songtsän Gampo's meditation cave.[10] Lozang Gyatso, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, started the construction of the modern Potala Palace in 1645[2] after one of his spiritual advisers, Konchog Chophel (d. 1646), pointed out that the site was ideal as a seat of governmentSony VAIO VPCEA13EH/L battery, situated as it is between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa.[3] The external structure was built in 3 years, while the interior, together with its furnishings took 45 years to complete.[11] The Dalai Lama and his government moved into the Potrang Karpo ('White Palace') in 1649.[3] Construction lasted until 1694,[12] some twelve years after his deathSony VAIO VPCEA13EN/L battery. The Potala was used as a winter palace by the Dalai Lama from that time. The Potrang Marpo ('Red Palace') was added between 1690 and 1694.[12]

The new palace got its name from a hill on Cape Comorin at the southern tip of India—a rocky point sacred to the bodhisattva of compassion, who is known as Avalokitesvara, or Chenrezi. The Tibetans themselves rarely speak of the sacred place as the "Potala," Sony VAIO VPCEA15FA/B battery but rather as "Peak Potala" (Tse Potala), or usually as "the Peak.[13]

The palace was slightly damaged during the Tibetan uprising against the Chinese in 1959, when Chinese shells were launched into the palace's windows. It also escaped damage during the Cultural Revolution in 1966 through the personal intervention of Zhou Enlai,[14] who was then the Premier of the People's Republic of ChinaSony VAIO VPCEA15FA/P battery. Still, almost all of the over 100,000 volumes of scriptures, historical documents and other works of art were either removed, damaged or destroyed.[15]

The Potala Palace was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. In 2000 and 2001, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka were added to the list as extensions to the sites. Rapid modernisation has been a concern for UNESCOSony VAIO VPCEA15FA/W battery, however, which expressed concern over the building of modern structures immediately around the palace which threaten the palace's unique atmosphere.[16] The Chinese government responded by enacting a rule barring the building of any structure taller than 21 metres in the area. UNESCO was also concerned over the materials used during the restoration of the palaceSony VAIO VPCEA15FN/L battery, which commenced in 2002 at a cost of RMB180 million (US$22.5 million), although the palace's director, Qiangba Gesang, has clarified that only traditional materials and craftsmanship were used. The palace has also received restoration works between 1989 to 1994, costing RMB55 million (US$6.875 million).

The number of visitors to the palace was restricted to 1,600 a day, with opening hours reduced to six hours daily to avoid over-crowding from 1 May 2003Sony VAIO VPCEA16E battery. The palace was receiving an average of 1,500 a day prior to the introduction of the quota, sometimes peaking to over 5,000 in one day.[17] Visits to the structure's roof was banned after restoration works were completed in 2006 to avoid further structural damage.[18] Visitorship quotas were raised to 2,300 daily to accommodate a 30% increase in visitorship since the opening of the Qingzang railway into Lhasa on 1 July 2006Sony VAIO VPCEA16EC battery, but the quota is often reached by mid-morning.[19] Opening hours were extended during the peak period in the months of July to September, where over 6,000 visitors would descend on the site.[20]

Built at an altitude of 3,700 m (12,100 ft), on the side of Marpo Ri ('Red Mountain') in the center of Lhasa Valley,[21] the Potala Palace, with its vast inward-sloping walls broken only in the upper parts by straight rows of many windowsSony VAIO VPCEA16FA/B battery, and its flat roofs at various levels, is not unlike a fortress in appearance. At the south base of the rock is a large space enclosed by walls and gates, with great porticos on the inner side. A series of tolerably easy staircases, broken by intervals of gentle ascent, leads to the summit of the rock. The whole width of this is occupied by the palaceSony VAIO VPCEA16FA/L battery.

The central part of this group of buildings rises in a vast quadrangular mass above its satellites to a great height, terminating in gilt canopies similar to those on the Jokhang. This central member of Potala is called the "red palace" from its crimson colour, which distinguishes it from the rest. It contains the principal halls and chapels and shrines of past Dalai LamasSony VAIO VPCEA16FA/P battery. There is in these much rich decorative painting, with jewelled work, carving and other ornament.

The Chinese Putuo Zongcheng Temple, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built between 1767 and 1771, was in part modeled after the Potala Palace. The palace was named by the American television show Good Morning America and newspaper USA Today as one of the "New Seven Wonders".Sony VAIO VPCEA16FA/W battery

The White Palace

The White Palace or Potrang Karpo is the part of the Potala Palace that makes up the living quarters of the Dalai Lama. The first White Palace was built during the lifetime of the Fifth Dalai Lama and he and his government moved into it in 1649.[3] It then was extended to its size today by the thirteenth Dalai Lama in the early twentieth centurySony VAIO VPCEA16FG/B battery. The palace was for secular uses and contained the living quarters, offices, the seminary and the printing house. A central, yellow-painted courtyard known as a Deyangshar separates the living quarters of the Lama and his monks with the Red Palace, the other side of the sacred Potala, which is completely devoted to religious study and prayer. It contains the sacred gold stupasSony VAIO VPCEA16FG/G battery—the tombs of eight Dalai Lamas—the monks' assembly hall, numerous chapels and shrines, and libraries for the important Buddhist scriptures, the Kangyur in 108 volumes and the Tengyur with 225. The yellow building at the side of the White Palace in the courtyard between the main palaces houses giant banners embroidered with holy symbols which hung across the south face of the Potala during New Year festivalsSony VAIO VPCEA16FG/L battery.

Looking up at the Potala. 1993.

The Red Palace or Potrang Marpo is part of the Potala palace that is completely devoted to religious study and Buddhist prayer. It consists of a complicated layout of many different halls, chapels and libraries on many different levels with a complex array of smaller galleries and

The main central hall of the Red Palace is the Great West Hall which consists of four great chapels that proclaim the glory and power of the builder of the Potala, the Fifth Dalai LamaSony VAIO VPCEA16FG/P battery. The hall is noted for its fine murals reminiscent of Persian miniatures, depicting events in the fifth Dalai Lama's life. The famous scene of his visit to Emperor Shun Zhi in Beijing is located on the east wall outside the entrance. Special cloth from Bhutan wraps the Hall's numerous columns and pillarsSony VAIO VPCEA16FG/W battery.

The Saint's Chapel

On the north side of this hall in the Red Palace is the holiest shrine of the Potala. A large blue and gold inscription over the door was written by the 19th century Tongzhi Emperor of China. proclaiming Buddhism a Blessed Field of Wonderful Fruit. This chapel like the Dharma cave below it dates from the seventh centurySony VAIO VPCEA16FH/B battery. It contains a small ancient jewel encrusted statue of Avalokiteshvara and two of his attendants. On the floor below, a low, dark passage leads into the Dharma Cave where Songsten Gampo is believed to have studied Buddhism. In the holy cave are images of Songsten Gampo, his wives, his chief minister and Sambhota, the scholar who developed Tibetan writing in the company of his many divinitiesSony VAIO VPCEA16FH/G battery.

North Chapel

Snow Lions protect the entrance to the Potala Palace

The North Chapel centres on a crowned Sakyamuni Buddha on the left and the Fifth Dalai Lama on the right seated on magnificent gold thrones. Their equal height and shared aura implies equal status. On the far left of the chapel is the gold stupa tomb of the Eleventh Dalai Lama who died as a child, with rows of benign Medicine Buddhas who were the heavenly healersSony VAIO VPCEA16FH/L battery. On the right of the chapel are Avalokiteshvara and his historical incarnations including Songsten Gampo and the first four Dalai Lamas. Scriptures covered in silk between wooden covers form a specialized library in a room branching off it.

[edit]South Chapel

The South Chapel centres on Padmasambhava, the 8th century Indian magician and saint. His consort Yeshe TsogyalSony VAIO VPCEA16FH/P battery, a gift from the King is by his left knee and his other wife from his native land of Swat is by his right. On his left, eight of his holy manifestations meditate with an inturned gaze. On his right, eight wrathful manifestations wield instruments of magic powers to subdue the demons of the Bön faithSony VAIO VPCEA16FH/W battery.

The walls of the Red Palace.

East Chapel

The East chapel is dedicated to Tsong Khapa, founder of the Gelug tradition. His central figure is surrounded by lamas from Sakya Monastery who had briefly ruled Tibet and formed their own tradition until converted by Tsong Khapa. Other statues are displayed made of various different materials and display noble expressionsSony VAIO VPCEA17FG/B battery.

West Chapel

This is the chapel that contains the five golden stupas. The enormous central stupa, 14.85 metres (49 ft) high, contains the mummified body of the Fifth Dalai Lama. This stupa is built of sandalwood and is remarkably coated in 3,727 kg (8,200 lb) of solid gold and studded with 18,680 pearls and semi-precious jewels.[23] On the left is the funeral stupa for the Twelfth Dalai Lama and on the right that of the Tenth Dalai LamaSony VAIO VPCEA17FH/B battery. The nearby stupa for the 13th Dalai Lama is 22 metres (72 ft) high. The stupas on both ends contain important scriptures.[7]

First Gallery

The quiet and peaceful park, pond, and chapel behind the Potala

The first gallery is on the floor above the West chapel and has a number of large windows that give light and ventilation to the Great West Hall and its chapels below. Between the windows, superb murals show the Potala's construction is fine detailSony VAIO VPCEA18EC battery.

Second Gallery

The Second Gallery gives access to the central pavilion which is used for visitors to the palace for refreshments and to buy souvenirs.

[edit]Third Gallery

The Third Gallery besides fine murals has a number of dark rooms branching off it containing enormous collections of bronze statues and miniature figures made of copper and gold worth a fortuneSony VAIO VPCEA1 battery. The chanting hall of the Seventh Dalai Lama is on the south side and on the east an entrance connects the section to the Saints chapel and the Deyangshar between the two palaces.

Tomb of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama

The tomb of the 13th Dalai Lama is located west of the Great West Hall and it can be reached only from an upper floor and with the company of a monk or a guide of the Potala. Built in 1933, the giant stupa contains priceless jewels and one ton of solid gold. It is 14 metres (46 ft) highSony VAIO VPCEA1S1E battery. Devotional offerings include elephant tusks from India, porcelain lions and vases and a mandala made from over 200,000 pearls. Elaborate murals in traditional Tibetan styles depict many events of the life of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama during the early 20th century.

The graceful stone pillar, the Lhasa Zhol rdo-rings, Lhasa Zhol Pillar or Doring Chima,[24] originally stood in Zhol Village at the foot of the PotalaSony VAIO VPCEA1S1E/B battery. Today the pillar stands neglected to the side of the new park where Zhol Village used to stand, below the Potala Palace, in Lhasa, Tibet,[citation needed] dates as far back as circa 764 CE, "or only a little later,"[25] and is inscribed with what may be the oldest known example of Tibetan writing. Sony VAIO VPCEA1S1E/G battery

The pillar contains dedications to a famous Tibetan general and gives an account of his services to the king including campaigns against China which culminated in the brief capture of the Chinese capital Chang'an (modern Xian) in 763 CE[27] during which the Tibetans temporarily installed as Emperor a relative of Princess Jincheng Gongzhu (Kim-sheng Kong co), the Chinese wife of Trisong Detsen's father, Me AgtsomSony VAIO VPCEA1S1E/L battery.

Angkor Wat (Khmer: អង្គរវត្ត) is the largest Khmer temple complex in the world. The temple was built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yasodharapura (Khmer: យសោធរបុរៈ, present-day Angkor), the capital of the Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. Breaking from the Shaivism tradition of previous kingsSony VAIO VPCEA1S1E/P battery, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia,[1] appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitorsSony VAIO VPCEA1S1E/W battery.

Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple mountain and the later galleried temple, based on early South Indian Hindu architecture, with key features such as the Jagati. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) long are three rectangular galleriesSony VAIO VPCEA1S battery, each raised above the next. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west; scholars are divided as to the significance of this. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs, and for the numerous devatas adorning its wallsSony VAIO VPCEA1Z1E battery.

The modern name, Angkor Wat, means "City Temple" in Khmer; Angkor, meaning "city" or "capital city", is a vernacular form of the word nokor (នគរ), which comes from the Sanskrit word nagar (नगर).[2] Wat is the Khmer word for "temple grounds", derived from the Pali word "vatta" (वत्त).[3] Prior to this time the temple was known as Preah Pisnulok (Vara Vishnuloka in Sanskrit), after the posthumous title of its founderSony VAIO VPCEA21EG/BI battery.

History

King Suryavarman II, the builder of Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat lies 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) north of the modern town of Siem Reap, and a short distance south and slightly east of the previous capital, which was centred at Baphuon. It is in an area of Cambodia where there is an important group of ancient structures. It is the southernmost of Angkor's main sitesSony VAIO VPCEA21EH/BI battery.

The initial design and construction of the temple took place in the first half of the 12th century, during the reign of Suryavarman II (ruled 1113 – c. 1150). Dedicated to Vishnu, it was built as the king's state temple and capital city. As neither the foundation stela nor any contemporary inscriptions referring to the temple have been found, its original name is unknownSony VAIO VPCEA21EN/BI battery, but it may have been known as Vrah Vishnu-lok ( literally "Holy Vishnu'-Location'", Old Khmer' Cl. Sanskrit). after the presiding deity. Work seems to have ended shortly after the king's death, leaving some of the bas-relief decoration unfinished.[5] In 1177, approximately 27 years after the death of Suryavarman II, Angkor was sacked by the Chams, the traditional enemies of the KhmerSony VAIO VPCEA2S1E/B battery. Thereafter the empire was restored by a new king, Jayavarman VII, who established a new capital and state temple (Angkor Thom and the Bayon respectively) a few kilometres to the north.

In the late 13th century, Angkor Wat gradually moved from Hindu to Theravada Buddhist use, which continues to the present day. Angkor Wat is unusual among the Angkor temples in that although it was somewhat neglected after the 16th century it was never completely abandonedSony VAIO VPCEA2S1E/G battery, its preservation being due in part to the fact that its moat also provided some protection from encroachment by the jungle.[6]

One of the first Western visitors to the temple was António da Madalena, a Portuguese monk who visited in 1586 and said that it "is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the worldSony VAIO VPCEA2S1E/L battery. It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of."[7] In the mid 19th century the temple was visited by the French naturalist and explorer, Henri Mouhot, who popularised the site in the West through the publication of travel notes, in which he wrote:

"One of these temples—a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michelangelo—might take an honourable place beside our most beautiful buildingsSony VAIO VPCEA2S1E/P battery. It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged."[8]

Mouhot, like other early Western visitors, found it difficult to believe that the Khmers could have built the temple, and mistakenly dated it to around the same era as Rome. The true history of Angkor Wat was pieced together only from stylistic and epigraphic evidence accumulated during the subsequent clearing and restoration work carried out across the whole Angkor siteSony VAIO VPCEA2S1E/W battery. There were no ordinary dwellings or houses or other signs of settlement including cooking utensils, weapons, or items of clothing usually found at ancient sites. Instead there is the evidence of the monuments themselves.[9]

Facade of Angkor Wat, a drawing by Henri Mouhot

French postcard about Angkor Wat in 1911

Angkor Wat required considerable restoration in the 20th century, mainly the removal of accumulated earth and vegetation. Sony VAIO VPCEA31EG/BI battery Work was interrupted by the civil war and Khmer Rouge control of the country during the 1970s and 1980s, but relatively little damage was done during this period other than the theft and destruction of mostly post-Angkorian statues.[11]

The temple is a powerful symbol of Cambodia, and is a source of great national pride that has factored into Cambodia's diplomatic relations with FranceSony VAIO VPCEA31EN/BI battery, the United States and its neighbour Thailand. A depiction of Angkor Wat has been a part of Cambodian national flags since the introduction of the first version circa 1863.[12] From a larger historical and even transcultural perspective, however, the temple of Angkor Wat did not became a symbol of national pride sui generis but had been inscribed into a larger Sony VAIO VPCEB1M0E batterypolitico-cultural process of French-colonial heritage production in which the original temple site was presented in French colonial and universal exhibitions in Paris and Marseille between 1889 and 1937.[13]

The splendid artistic legacy of Angkor Wat and other Khmer monuments in the Angkor region led directly to France adopting Cambodia as a protectorate on 11 August 1863 and invading Siam to take control of the ruinsSony VAIO VPCEB1M1E battery. This quickly led to Cambodia reclaiming lands in the northwestern corner of the country that had been under Siamese (Thai) control since 1351 AD (Manich Jumsai 2001), or by some accounts, 1431 AD.[14] Cambodia gained independence from France on 9 November 1953 and has controlled Angkor Wat since that timeSony VAIO VPCEB1M1E/BJ battery.

During the midst of the Vietnam War, Chief of State Norodom Sihanouk hosted Jacqueline Kennedy in Cambodia to fulfill her "lifelong dream of seeing Angkor Wat."[15]

In January 2003 riots erupted in Phnom Penh when a false rumour circulated that a Thai soap opera actress had claimed that Angkor Wat belonged to Thailand. Sony VAIO VPCEB1M1E/T battery

Architecture

Site and plan

General plan of Angkor Wat with central structure in the middle

Detailed plan of the central structure

Angkor Wat, located at 13°24′45″N 103°52′0″E, is a unique combination of the temple mountain, the standard design for the empire's state temples, the later plan of concentric galleries, and influences from Orissa and the Chola of Tamil Nadu, India. The temple is a representation of Mount MeruSony VAIO VPCEB1M1E/WI battery, the home of the gods: the central quincunx of towers symbolises the five peaks of the mountain, and the walls and moat the surrounding mountain ranges and ocean.[17] Access to the upper areas of the temple was progressively more exclusive, with the laity being admitted only to the lowest level. Sony VAIO VPCEB1S0E battery

Unlike most Khmer temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west rather than the east. This has led many (including Glaize and George Coedès) to conclude that Suryavarman intended it to serve as his funerary temple.[19] Further evidence for this view is provided by the bas-reliefs, which proceed in a counter-clockwise direction—prasavya in Hindu terminologySony VAIO VPCEB1S1E battery—as this is the reverse of the normal order. Rituals take place in reverse order during Brahminic funeral services.[10] The archaeologist Charles Higham also describes a container which may have been a funerary jar which was recovered from the central tower.[20] It has been nominated by some as the greatest expenditure of energy on the disposal of a corpse.[21] Freeman and JacquesSony VAIO VPCEB1S1E/BJ battery, however, note that several other temples of Angkor depart from the typical eastern orientation, and suggest that Angkor Wat's alignment was due to its dedication to Vishnu, who was associated with the west.[17]

A further interpretation of Angkor Wat has been proposed by Eleanor Mannikka. Drawing on the temple's alignment and dimensionsSony VAIO VPCEB1S1E/WI battery, and on the content and arrangement of the bas-reliefs, she argues that the structure represents a claimed new era of peace under King Suryavarman II: "as the measurements of solar and lunar time cycles were built into the sacred space of Angkor Wat, this divine mandate to rule was anchored to consecrated chambers and corridors meant to perpetuateSony VAIO VPCEB1S battery the king's power and to honor and placate the deities manifest in the heavens above." Mannikka's suggestions have been received with a mixture of interest and scepticism in academic circles.[20] She distances herself from the speculations of others, such as Graham Hancock, that Angkor Wat is part of a representation of the constellation Draco. Sony VAIO VPCEB1Z1E battery

Upper gallery at Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the prime example of the classical style of Khmer architecture—the Angkor Wat style—to which it has given its name. By the 12th century Khmer architects had become skilled and confident in the use of sandstone (rather than brick or laterite) as the main building material. Most of the visible areas are of sandstone blocksSony VAIO VPCEB1Z1E/B battery, while laterite was used for the outer wall and for hidden structural parts. The binding agent used to join the blocks is yet to be identified, although natural resins or slaked lime have been suggested.[25]

Angkor Wat has drawn praise above all for the harmony of its design, which has been compared to the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. According to Maurice Glaize, a mid-20th-century conservator of AngkorSony VAIO VPCEB2L9E/BQ battery, the temple "attains a classic perfection by the restrained monumentality of its finely balanced elements and the precise arrangement of its proportions. It is a work of power, unity and style."[26]

Architecturally, the elements characteristic of the style include: the ogival, redented towers shaped like lotus buds; half-galleries to broaden passageways; axial galleries connecting enclosures; and the cruciform terraces which appear along the main axis of the templeSony VAIO VPCEB2M0E/PI battery. Typical decorative elements are devatas (or apsaras), bas-reliefs, and on pediments extensive garlands and narrative scenes. The statuary of Angkor Wat is considered conservative, being more static and less graceful than earlier work.[27] Other elements of the design have been destroyed by looting and the passage of time, including gilded stucco on the towers, gilding on some figures on the bas-reliefs, and wooden ceiling panels and doors. Sony VAIO VPCEB2M0E/T battery

The Angkor Wat style was followed by that of the Bayon period, in which quality was often sacrificed to quantity.[29] Other temples in the style are Banteay Samré, Thommanon, Chao Say Tevoda and the early temples of Preah Pithu at Angkor; outside Angkor, Beng Mealea and parts of Phanom Rung and PhimaiSony VAIO VPCEB2M0E/WI battery.

Features

Aerial view of Angkor Wat

Outer enclosure

The outer wall, 1024 by 802 m and 4.5 m high, is surrounded by a 30 m apron of open ground and a moat 190 m wide. Access to the temple is by an earth bank to the east and a sandstone causeway to the west; the latter, the main entrance, is a later addition, possibly replacing a wooden bridge.[30] There are gopuras at each of the cardinal pointsSony VAIO VPCEB2S1E/BQ battery; the western is by far the largest and has three ruined towers. Glaize notes that this gopura both hides and echoes the form of the temple proper.[31] Under the southern tower is a statue of Vishnu, known as Ta Reach, which may originally have occupied the temple's central shrine.[30] Galleries run between the towers and as far as two further entrances on either side of the gopura often referred to as "elephant gates"Sony VAIO VPCEB2S1E/PI battery, as they are large enough to admit those animals. These galleries have square pillars on the outer (west) side and a closed wall on the inner (east) side. The ceiling between the pillars is decorated with lotus rosettes; the west face of the wall with dancing figures; and the east face of the wall with balustered windows, dancing male figures on prancing animals, and devatas, including (south of the entrance) the only one in the temple to be showing her teethSony VAIO VPCEB2S1E/WI battery.

The outer wall encloses a space of 820,000 square metres (203 acres), which besides the temple proper was originally occupied by the city and, to the north of the temple, the royal palace. Like all secular buildings of Angkor, these were built of perishable materials rather than of stone, so nothing remains of them except the outlines of some of the streets.Sony VAIO VPCEB2Z1E/BQ battery Most of the area is now covered by forest. A 350 m causeway connects the western gopura to the temple proper, with naga balustrades and six sets of steps leading down to the city on either side. Each side also features a library with entrances at each cardinal point, in front of the third set of stairs from the entrance, and a pond between the library and the temple itselfSony VAIO VPCEB33FG/BI battery. The ponds are later additions to the design, as is the cruciform terrace guarded by lions connecting the causeway to the central structure.[32]

Central structure

Miniature model of the central structure of Angkor Wat. In the foreground the cruciform terrace which lies in front of the central structure.

The temple stands on a terrace raised higher than the city. It is made of three rectangular galleries rising to a central tower, each level higher than the lastSony VAIO VPCEB33FG/WI battery. Mannikka interprets these galleries as being dedicated to the king, Brahma, the moon, and Vishnu.[5] Each gallery has a gopura at each of the points, and the two inner galleries each have towers at their corners, forming a quincunx with the central tower. Because the temple faces west, the features are all set back towards the east, leaving more space to be filled in each enclosure and gallery on the west sideSony VAIO VPCEB37FG/B battery; for the same reason the west-facing steps are shallower than those on the other sides.

The outer gallery measures 187 by 215 m, with pavilions rather than towers at the corners. The gallery is open to the outside of the temple, with columned half-galleries extending and buttressing the structure. Connecting the outer gallery to the second enclosure on the west side is a cruciform cloister called Preah Poan (the "Hall of a Thousand Gods")Sony VAIO VPCEB37FG/W battery. Buddha images were left in the cloister by pilgrims over the centuries, although most have now been removed. This area has many inscriptions relating the good deeds of pilgrims, most written in Khmer but others in Burmese and Japanese. The four small courtyards marked out by the cloister may originally have been filled with water.[33] North and south of the cloister are librariesSony VAIO VPCEBM1E battery.

Beyond, the second and inner galleries are connected to each other and to two flanking libraries by another cruciform terrace, again a later addition. From the second level upwards, devatas abound on the walls, singly or in groups of up to four. The second-level enclosure is 100 by 115 m, and may originally have been flooded to represent the ocean around Mount Meru. Sony VAIO VPCEC1M1 battery Three sets of steps on each side lead up to the corner towers and gopuras of the inner gallery. The very steep stairways represent the difficulty of ascending to the kingdom of the gods.[35] This inner gallery, called the Bakan, is a 60 m square with axial galleries connecting each gopura with the central shrine, and subsidiary shrines located below the corner towersSony VAIO VPCEC1M1E battery. The roofings of the galleries are decorated with the motif of the body of a snake ending in the heads of lions or garudas. Carved lintels and pediments decorate the entrances to the galleries and to the shrines. The tower above the central shrine rises 43 m to a height of 65 m above the ground; unlike those of previous temple mountainsSony VAIO VPCEC1M1E/WI battery, the central tower is raised above the surrounding four.[36] The shrine itself, originally occupied by a statue of Vishnu and open on each side, was walled in when the temple was converted to Theravada Buddhism, the new walls featuring standing Buddhas. In 1934, the conservator George Trouvé excavated the pit beneath the central shrine: filled with sand and water it had already been robbed of its treasure, but he did find a sacred foundation deposit of gold leaf two metres above ground level. Sony VAIO VPCEC1S1E battery

Decoration

Devatas are characteristic of the Angkor Wat style.

The bas-relief of the Churning of the Sea of Milk shows Vishnu in the centre, his turtle Avatar Kurma below, asuras and devas to left and right, and apsaras and Indra above.

Integrated with the architecture of the building, and one of the causes for its fame is Angkor Wat's extensive decorationSony VAIO VPCEC1S1E/BJ battery, which predominantly takes the form of bas-relief friezes. The inner walls of the outer gallery bear a series of large-scale scenes mainly depicting episodes from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Higham has called these, "the greatest known linear arrangement of stone carving".[38] From the north-west corner anti-clockwise, the western gallery shows the Battle of Lanka Sony VAIO VPCEC1Z1E/BJ battery (from the Ramayana, in which Rama defeats Ravana) and the Battle of Kurukshetra (from the Mahabharata, showing the mutual annihilation of the Kaurava and Pandava clans). On the southern gallery follow the only historical scene, a procession of Suryavarman II, then the 32 hells and 37 heavens of Hindu mythology.

On the eastern gallery is one of the most celebrated scenes, the Churning of the Sea of Milk, showing 92[39] asuras and 88 devas using the serpent Vasuki to churn the sea under Vishnu's direction Sony VAIO VPCEC2E9E/BJ battery(Mannikka counts only 91 asuras, and explains the asymmetrical numbers as representing the number of days from the winter solstice to the spring equinox, and from the equinox to the summer solstice).[40] It is followed by Vishnu defeating asuras (a 16th-century addition). The northern gallery shows Krishna's victory over Bana (where according to Glaize, "The workmanship is at its worst"[41]) Sony VAIO VPCEC2M1E/WI battery and a battle between the Hindu gods and asuras. The north-west and south-west corner pavilions both feature much smaller-scale scenes, some unidentified but most from the Ramayana or the life of Krishna.

[edit]Construction techniques

The stones, as smooth as polished marble, were laid without mortar with very tight joints that were sometimes hard to find. The blocks were held together by mortise and tenon joints in some cases, while in others they used dovetails and gravitySony VAIO VPCEC2S0E/WI battery. The blocks were presumably put in place by a combination of elephants, coir ropes, pulleys and bamboo scaffolding. Henri Mouhot noted that most of the blocks had holes 2.5 cm in diameter and 3 cm deep, with more holes on the larger blocks. Some scholars have suggested that these were used to join them together with iron rodsSony VAIO VPCEC2S1E/BJ battery, but others claim they were used to hold temporary pegs to help manoeuvre them into place.

The monument was made out of enormous amounts of sandstone, as much as Khafre's pyramid in Egypt (over 5 million tons). This sandstone had to be transported from Mount Kulen, a quarry approximately 25 miles (40 km) to the northeast. The stone was presumably transported by raft along the Siem Reap riverSony VAIO VPCEE2E1E/WI battery. This would have to have been done with care to avoid overturning the rafts with such a large amount of weight. One modern engineer estimated it would take 300 years to complete Angkor Wat today.[42] Yet the monument was begun soon after Suryavarman came to the throne and was finished shortly after his death, no more than 40 yearsSony VAIO VPCEE2M1E/WI battery.

Virtually all of its surfaces, columns, lintels even roofs are carved. There are miles of reliefs illustrating scenes from Indian literature including unicorns, griffins, winged dragons pulling chariots as well as warriors following an elephant-mounted leader and celestial dancing girls with elaborate hair styles. The gallery wall alone is decorated with almost 1,000 square metres of bas reliefsSony VAIO VPCEE2S1E/BQ battery. Holes on some of the Angkor walls indicate that they may have been decorated with bronze sheets. These were highly prized in ancient times and were a prime target for robbers. While excavating Khajuraho, Alex Evans, a stonemason and sculptor, recreated a stone sculpture under 4 feet (1.2 m), this took about 60 days to carve. Sony VAIO VPCEE2S1E/WI battery Roger Hopkins and Mark Lehner also conducted experiments to quarry limestone which took 12 quarrymen 22 days to quarry about 400 tons of stone.[44] The labour force to quarry, transport, carve and install so much sandstone must have run into the thousands including many highly skilled artisans. The skills required to carve these sculptures were developed hundreds of years earlierSony VAIO VPCEF2E1E/WI battery, as demonstrated by some artifacts that have been dated to the seventh century, before the Khmer came to power.

Angkor Wat today

World Monuments Fund video on conservation of Angkor Wat

The Archaeological Survey of India carried out restoration work on the temple between 1986 and 1992.[45] Since the 1990s, Angkor Wat has seen continued conservation efforts and a massive increase in tourism. The temple is part of the Angkor World Heritage Site, established in 1992Sony VAIO VPCEF2S1E/BI battery, which has provided some funding and has encouraged the Cambodian government to protect the site.[46] The German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP) is working to protect the devatas and other bas-reliefs which decorate the temple from damage. The organisation's survey found that around 20% of the devatas were in very poor conditionSony VAIO VPCEF2S1E/WI battery, mainly because of natural erosion and deterioration of the stone but in part also due to earlier restoration efforts.[47] Other work involves the repair of collapsed sections of the structure, and prevention of further collapse: the west facade of the upper level, for example, has been buttressed by scaffolding since 2002, Sony VAIO VGN-AW11M/H battery while a Japanese team completed restoration of the north library of the outer enclosure in 2005.[49] World Monuments Fund began work on the Churning of the Sea of Milk Gallery in 2008.

Angkor Wat has become a major tourist destination. In 2004 and 2005, government figures suggest that, respectively, 561,000 and 677,000 foreign visitors arrived in Siem Reap province, approximately 50% of all foreign tourists in Cambodia for both years. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11S/B battery The site has been managed by the private SOKIMEX group since 1990, which rented it from the Cambodian government. The influx of tourists has so far caused relatively little damage, other than some graffiti; ropes and wooden steps have been introduced to protect the bas-reliefs and floors, respectively. Tourism has also provided some additional funds for maintenance—as of 2000 approximately 28% Sony VAIO VGN-AW11Z/B batteryof ticket revenues across the whole Angkor site was spent on the temples—although most work is carried out by foreign government-sponsored teams rather than by the Cambodian authorities.[51]

At the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2012, both parties have agreed Borobudur and Angkor Wat to become sister sites and the provinces will become sister provinces. Two Indonesian airlines are considering the opportunity to open a direct flight from Yogyakarta, Indonesia to Siem ReapSony VAIO VGN-AW19/Q battery.

The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China in part to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states against intrusions by various nomadic groups or military incursions by various warlike peoples or forcesSony VAIO VGN-AW19 battery. Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC;[3] these, later joined together and made bigger, stronger, and unified are now collectively referred to as the Great Wall.[4] Especially famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains. Since then, the Great Wall has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, enhancedSony VAIO VGN-AW21M/H battery; the majority of the existing wall was reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty.

Other purposes of the Great Wall have included border controls, allowing the imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road, regulation or encouragement of trade and the control of immigration and emigration. Furthermore, the defensive characteristics of the Great Wall were enhanced by the construction of watch towersSony VAIO VGN-AW21S/B battery, troop barracks, garrison stations, signaling capabilities through the means of smoke or fire, and the fact that the path of the Great Wall also served as a transportation corridor.

The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi). Sony VAIO VGN-AW21VY/Q batteryThis is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 mi) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers.[5] Another archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measure out to be 21,196 km

The Chinese were already familiar with the techniques of wall-building by the time of the Spring and Autumn Period between the 8th and 5th centuries BCE[7] During this time and the subsequent Warring States Period, the states of QinSony VAIO VGN-AW21XY/Q battery, Wei, Zhao, Qi, Yan and Zhongshan[8][9] all constructed extensive fortifications to defend their own borders. Built to withstand the attack of small arms such as swords and spears, these walls were made mostly by stamping earth and gravel between board frames.

Qin Shi Huang conquered all opposing states and unified China in 221 BCE, establishing the Qin DynastySony VAIO VGN-AW21Z/B battery. Intending to impose centralized rule and prevent the resurgence of feudal lords, he ordered the destruction of the wall sections that divided his empire along the former state borders. To protect the empire against intrusions by the Xiongnu people from the north, he ordered the building of a new wall to connect the remaining fortifications along the empire's new northern frontierSony VAIO VGN-AW31M/H battery. Transporting the large quantity of materials required for construction was difficult, so builders always tried to use local resources. Stones from the mountains were used over mountain ranges, while rammed earth was used for construction in the plains. There are no surviving historical records indicating the exact length and course of the Qin Dynasty wallsSony VAIO VGN-AW31S/B battery. Most of the ancient walls have eroded away over the centuries, and very few sections remain today. The human cost of the construction is unknown, but it has been estimated by some authors that hundreds of thousands,[10] if not up to a million, workers died building the Qin wall. Later, the Han,[13] Sui, and Northern dynasties all repaired, rebuilt, or expanded sections of the Great Wall at great cost to defend themselves against northern invaders. Sony VAIO VGN-AW31XY/Q battery The Tang and Song Dynasties did not build any walls in the region.[14] The Liao, Jin, and Yuan dynasties, who ruled Northern China throughout most of the 10-13th centuries, had their original power bases north of the Great Wall proper. Accordingly, they would have no need throughout most of their history to build a wall along this line. The Liao carried out limited repair of the Great Wall in a few areas, Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF/H battery however the Jin did construct defensive walls in the 12th century, but those were located much to the north of the Great Wall as we know it, within today's Inner and Outer Mongolia.

Ming era

The Great Wall concept was revived again during the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century,[17] and following the Ming army's defeat by the Oirats in the Battle of Tumu. The Ming had failed to gain a clear upper hand over the Manchurian and Mongolian tribes after successive battlesSony VAIO VGN-AW41JF battery, and the long-drawn conflict was taking a toll on the empire. The Ming adopted a new strategy to keep the nomadic tribes out by constructing walls along the northern border of China. Acknowledging the Mongol control established in the Ordos Desert, the wall followed the desert's southern edge instead of incorporating the bend of the Huang He.

Unlike the earlier Qin fortificationsSony VAIO VGN-AW41MF/H battery, the Ming construction was stronger and more elaborate due to the use of bricks and stone instead of rammed earth. There are estimated as many 25,000 watchtowers that have been constructed on the wall.[18] As Mongol raids continued periodically over the years, the Ming devoted considerable resources to repair and reinforce the wallsSony VAIO VGN-AW41MF battery. Sections near the Ming capital of Beijing were especially strong.[19] Qi Jiguang between 1567 and 1570 also repaired and reinforced the wall, faced sections of the ram-earth wall with bricks and constructed 1,200 watchtowers from Shanhaiguan Pass to Changping to warn of approaching Mongol raiders. Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH/Q battery

During the 1440s–1460s, the Ming also built a so-called "Liaodong Wall". Similar in function to the Great Wall (whose extension, in a sense, it was), but more basic in construction, the Liaodong Wall enclosed the agricultural heartland of the Liaodong province, protecting it against potential incursions by Jurched-Mongol Oriyanghan from the northwest and the Jianzhou Jurchens from the northSony VAIO VGN-AW41XH battery. While stones and tiles were used in some parts of the Liaodong Wall, most of it was in fact simply an earth dike with moats on both sides.[21]

Towards the end of the Ming Dynasty, the Great Wall helped defend the empire against the Manchu invasions that began around 1600. Even after the loss of all of Liaodong, the Ming army under the command of Yuan Chonghuan held off the Manchus at the heavily fortified Shanhaiguan passSony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF/B battery, preventing the Manchus from entering the Chinese heartland. The Manchus were finally able to cross the Great Wall in 1644, after Beijing had fallen to Li Zicheng's rebels, and the gates at Shanhaiguan were opened by the commanding Ming general Wu Sangui, who hoped to use the Manchus to expel the rebels from BeijingSony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF battery. The Manchus quickly seized Beijing, and defeated both the rebel-founded Shun Dynasty and the remaining Ming resistance, establishing the Qing Dynasty rule over all of China.

In 2009, an additional 290 km (180 mi) of previously undetected portions of the wall, built during the Ming Dynasty, were discovered. The newly discovered sections range from the Hushan mountains in the northern Liaoning provinceSony VAIO VGN-CS11S/P battery, to Jiayuguan in western Gansu province. The sections had been submerged over time by sandstorms which moved across the arid region.[22]

Under Qing rule, China's borders extended beyond the walls and Mongolia was annexed into the empire, so construction and repairs on the Great Wall were discontinued. On the other hand, the so-called Willow Palisade, following a line similar to that of the Ming Liaodong Wall, was constructed by the Qing rulers in ManchuriaSony VAIO VGN-CS11S/Q battery. Its purpose, however, was not defense but rather migration control.

Early Western reports of the wall

The North African traveler Ibn Battuta, who was in Guangzhou ca. 1346, inquired among the local Muslims about the wall that, according to the Qur'an, Dhul-Qarnayn had built to contain Gog and Magog. Ibn Battuta reported that the wall was "sixty days' travel" from the city of Zeitun (Quanzhou); Sony VAIO VGN-CS11S/W battery Hamilton Alexander Rosskeen Gibb noted Ibn Battuta has confused the Great Wall of China with that built by Dhul-Qarnayn.[23] This indicated that Arabs may have heard about China's Great Wall during earlier periods of China's history, and associated it with the Gog and Magog wall of the Qur'an.[16] But, in any event, no one of Ibn Battuta's Guangzhou interlocutors had seen the wall or knew anyone who had seen itSony VAIO VGN-CS11Z/R battery, which implies that by the late Yuan the existence of the Great Wall was not in the people's living memory, at least not in the Muslim communities in Guangzhou.[16]

Soon after Europeans reached the Ming China in the early 16th century, accounts of the Great Wall started to circulate in Europe, even th

ough no European was to see it with his own eyes for another century. Possibly the earliest description of the wallSony VAIO VGN-CS11Z/T battery, and its significance for the defense of the country against the "Tartars" (i.e. Mongols), may be the one contained in the Third Década of João de Barros' Asia (published 1563).[24] Interestingly, Barros himself did not travel to Asia, but was able to use Chinese books brought to Lisbon by Portuguese traders. Sony VAIO VGN-CS13H/P battery One of the earliest records of a Western traveler entering China via a Great Wall pass (Jiayuguan, in this case) may be that of the Portuguese Jesuit brother Bento de Góis, who had reached China's north-western gate from India in 1605.[26]

Notable areas

Photograph of the Great Wall in 1907

An area of the sections of the Great Wall at Jinshanling

The Great Wall between Simatai and Jinshanling

Some of the following sections are in Beijing municipality, which were renovated and which are regularly visited by modern tourists todaySony VAIO VGN-CS13H/Q battery.

"North Pass" of Juyongguan pass, known as the Badaling. When used by the Chinese to protect their land, this section of the wall has had many guards to defend China’s capital Beijing. Made of stone and bricks from the hills, this portion of the Great Wall is 7.8 meters (26 ft) high and 5 meters (16 ft) wideSony VAIO VGN-CS13H/R battery.

"West Pass" of Jiayuguan (pass). This fort is near the western edges of the Great Wall.

"Pass" of Shanhaiguan. This fort is near the eastern edges of the Great Wall.

One of the most striking sections of the Ming Great Wall is where it climbs extremely steep slopes. It runs 11 kilometers (6.8 mi) long, ranges from 5 to 8 meters (16–26 ft) in height, and 6 meters (20 ft) across the bottom, narrowing up to 5 meters (16 ft) across the top. Wangjinglou is one of Jinshanling's 67 watchtowers, 980 meters (3,220 ft) above sea levelSony VAIO VGN-CS13H/W battery.

South East of Jinshanling, is the Mutianyu Great Wall which winds along lofty, cragged mountains from the southeast to the northwest for approximately 2.25 kilometers (about 1.3 miles). It is connected with Juyongguan Pass to the west and Gubeikou to the east.

25 km (16 mi) west of the Liao Tian Ling stands a part of the Great Wall which is only 2~3 stories high. According to the records of Lin Tian, the wall was not only extremely short compared to others, but it appears to be silverSony VAIO VGN-CS13T/W battery. Archeologists explain that the wall appears to be silver because the stone they used were from Shan Xi, where many mines are found. The stone contains extremely high levels of metal in it causing it to appear silver. However, due to years of decay of the Great Wall, it is hard to see the silver part of the wall today.

Another notable section lies near the eastern extremity of the wallSony VAIO VGN-CS16T/P battery, where the first pass of the Great Wall was built on the Shanhaiguan (known as the “Number One Pass Under Heaven”). 3 km north of Shanhaiguan is Jiaoshan Great Wall, the site of the first mountain of the Great Wall.[27] 15 km northeast from Shanhaiguan, is the Jiumenkou, which is the only portion of the wall that was built as a bridgeSony VAIO VGN-CS16T/Q battery.

Characteristics

Before the use of bricks, the Great Wall was mainly built from rammed earth, stones, and wood. During the Ming Dynasty, however, bricks were heavily used in many areas of the wall, as were materials such as tiles, lime, and stone. The size and weight of the bricks made them easier to work with than earth and stone, so construction quickenedSony VAIO VGN-CS16T/R battery. Additionally, bricks could bear more weight and endure better than rammed earth. Stone can hold under its own weight better than brick, but is more difficult to use. Consequently, stones cut in rectangular shapes were used for the foundation, inner and outer brims, and gateways of the wall. Battlements line the uppermost portion of the vast majority of the wallSony VAIO VGN-CS16T/T battery, with defensive gaps a little over 30 cm (12 in) tall, and about 23 cm (9.1 in) wide.

Condition

The Great Wall at Mutianyu, near Beijing

While some portions north of Beijing and near tourist centers have been preserved and even extensively renovated, in many locations the Wall is in disrepair. Those parts might serve as a village playground or a source of stones to rebuild houses and roads.[28] Sections of the Wall are also prone to graffiti and vandalism. Parts have been destroyed because the Wall is in the way of construction. Sony VAIO VGN-CS16T/W battery

More than 60 km (37 mi) of the wall in Gansu province may disappear in the next 20 years, due to erosion from sandstorms. In places, the height of the wall has been reduced from more than five meters (16.4 ft) to less than two meters. The square lookout towers that characterize the most famous images of the wall have disappeared completelySony VAIO VGN-CS17H/Q battery. Many western sections of the wall are constructed from mud, rather than brick and stone, and thus are more susceptible to erosion.[30]

Watchtowers and barracks

Communication between the army units along the length of the Great Wall, including the ability to call reinforcements and warn garrisons of enemy movements, was of high importance. Signal towers were built upon hill tops or other high points along the wall for their visibilitySony VAIO VGN-CS17H/W battery.

Visibility from space

Visibility from the moon

One of the earliest known references to this myth appears in a letter written in 1754 by the English antiquary William Stukeley. Stukeley wrote that, "This mighty wall of four score miles in length (Hadrian's Wall) is only exceeded by the Chinese Wall, which makes a considerable figure upon the terrestrial globe, and may be discerned at the moon." Sony VAIO VGN-CS19/P battery The claim was also mentioned by Henry Norman in 1895 where he states "besides its age it enjoys the reputation of being the only work of human hands on the globe visible from the moon."[32] The issue of "canals" on Mars was prominent in the late 19th century and may have led to the belief that long, thin objects were visible from spaceSony VAIO VGN-CS19/Q battery. The claim that the Great Wall is visible also appears in 1932's Ripley's Believe it or Not strip[34] and in Richard Halliburton's 1938 book Second Book of Marvels.

The claim the Great Wall is visible has been debunked many times,[35] but is still ingrained in popular culture.[36] The wall is a maximum 9.1 m (30 ft) wide, and is about the same color as the soil surrounding it. Based on the optics of resolving power (distance versus the width of the iris: a few millimeters for the human eye, meters for large telescopes)Sony VAIO VGN-CS19/R battery only an object of reasonable contrast to its surroundings which is 70 mi (110 km) or more in diameter (1 arc-minute) would be visible to the unaided eye from the moon, whose average distance from Earth is 384,393 km (238,851 mi). The apparent width of the Great Wall from the moon is the same as that of a human hair viewed from 2 miles (3.2 km) awaySony VAIO VGN-CS19/W battery. To see the wall from the moon would require spatial resolution 17,000 times better than normal (20/20) vision.[37] Unsurprisingly, no lunar astronaut has ever claimed to have seen the Great Wall from the moon.

Visibility from low earth orbit

A more controversial question is whether the Wall is visible from low earth orbit (an altitude of as little as 100 miles (160 km)). NASA claims that it is barely visible, and only under nearly perfect conditions; it is no more conspicuous than many other man-made objects. Sony VAIO VGN-CS21S/P battery Other authors have argued that due to limitations of the optics of the eye and the spacing of photoreceptors on the retina, it is impossible to see the wall with the naked eye, even from low orbit, and would require visual acuity of 20/3 (7.7 times better than normal).[37]

Astronaut William Pogue thought he had seen it from Skylab but discovered he was actually looking at the Grand Canal of China near BeijingSony VAIO VGN-CS21S/R battery. He spotted the Great Wall with binoculars, but said that "it wasn't visible to the unaided eye." U.S. Senator Jake Garn claimed to be able to see the Great Wall with the naked eye from a space shuttle orbit in the early 1980s, but his claim has been disputed by several U.S. astronauts. Veteran U.S. astronaut Gene Cernan has stated: "At Earth orbit of 100 miles (160 km) to 200 milesSony VAIO VGN-CS21S/T battery (320 km) high, the Great Wall of China is, indeed, visible to the naked eye." Ed Lu, Expedition 7 Science Officer aboard the International Space Station, adds that, "it's less visible than a lot of other objects. And you have to know where to look."

In 2001, Neil Armstrong stated about the view from Apollo 11: "I do not believe that, at least with my eyes, there would be any man-made object that I could seeSony VAIO VGN-CS21S/V battery. I have not yet found somebody who has told me they've seen the Wall of China from Earth orbit. ...I've asked various people, particularly Shuttle guys, that have been many orbits around China in the daytime, and the ones I've talked to didn't see it."[39]

In October 2003, Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei stated that he had not been able to see the Great Wall of China. In response, the European Space Agency (ESA) issued a press release reporting that from an orbit between 160 and 320 kmSony VAIO VGN-CS21S/W battery, the Great Wall is visible to the naked eye. In an attempt to further clarify things, the ESA published a picture of a part of the “Great Wall” photographed from Space. However, in a press release a week later (no longer available in the ESA’s website), they acknowledged that the "Great Wall" in the picture was actually a river. Sony VAIO VGN-CS21Z/Q battery

Leroy Chiao, a Chinese-American astronaut, took a photograph from the International Space Station that shows the wall. It was so indistinct that the photographer was not certain he had actually captured it. Based on the photograph, the China Daily later reported that the Great Wall can be seen from space with the naked eye, under favorable viewing conditionsSony VAIO VGN-CS23G/Q battery, if one knows exactly where to look.[40] However, the resolution of a camera can be much higher than the human visual system, and the optics much better, rendering photographic evidence irrelevant to the issue of whether it is visible to the naked eye.

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