A guard at the Great Wall of China has discovered a 450-year-old stone tablet with the names and titles of 15 officials during the Ming Dynasty on top of a tower.
The stone tablet, dating back to the reign of Emperor Wanli during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), was discovered on top of a tower by a ‘protector’ (guard) who was patrolling the Xuliukou section of the Great Wall in the city of Qian’an in the north-eastern Chinese province of Hebei.
Wanli ruled from 1572 to 1620.
The tablet is 102 centimetres (40 inches) long, 62 centimetres (24 inches) wide and 13 centimetres (6 inches) thick, and has a 300-character inscription with the names and titles of 15 officials during the Ming Dynasty.
The mentioned officials were generals who organised the building of this particular section of the wall as well as protectors who guarded it later on, according to Guo Lifei, vice curator of Qian’an Museum.
Guo added: “According to the inscription, the tablet was erected in 1584. It is the best-preserved stone tablet discovered along the Great Wall section of Qian’an, and can provide a reference for studies on the Great Wall culture and the rank system of the Ming Dynasty.”
The Great Wall of China is a UNESCO World Heritage site consisting of many interconnected walls across the country’s historical northern borders.
Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC by ancient Chinese states, and selective stretches were later joined together by Qin Shi Huang (220-206 BC), the first emperor of China.
Later on, many successive dynasties built and maintained multiple stretches of border walls. The most well-known sections of the wall were built by the Ming dynasty.
Due to human destruction and natural weathering, some parts of the Great Wall have been damaged or collapsed and are in urgent need of repair.
Qian’an has a total length of 45.3 kilometres (28 miles) of the wall, mainly built during the Ming Dynasty. To protect cultural relics, the city has hired 24 ‘protectors’ from surrounding villages.
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