Researchers are to carry out the first detailed survey of the Great Wall of China to establish just how long the ancient barricade is, the Chinese news agency Xinhua has reported. Along with checking its dimensions the four-year study, which starts in May, will map the wall's exact route. The survey will also check the condition of the fortification.
The study will be conducted by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping in 13 provinces, regions and municipalities, the news agency said.
The wall, reputed to be the world's largest man-made structure, is estimated to be over 5,000 kilometres in length. But archaeologists have been lobbying hard for a survey which will provide scholars with an accurate understanding of the construction.
Known to the Chinese as the Long Wall of 10,000 Li, the Great Wall is a series of walls and earthen works begun in the 5th century bc and was first linked up around 220 bc. It was listed as a unesco world heritage site in 1987.
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