The recent Forum issue of whether the Qi Wall was included within the Taishan inscription ( http://www.worldheritagesite.org/forums/index.php?action=vthread&forum=5&topic=1485
) has focussed my interest on the scope of "The Great Wall" inscription itself. In this I was further stimulated by a recent discussion about the Wall on "In Our Time" ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00s3h3w
) and my acquisition of a (remaindered!!) coffee table book which follows "it" from the Yalu river to Jiyayuguan ( http://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-Wall-Beginning-Michael-Yamashita/dp/1402731604/ref=cm_
So, in UNESCO World Heritage terms, what is defined as "The Great Wall" and what parts of it are inscribed
? The UNESCO Web site seemed a good place to start but it lacks a Nomination File, any maps or even a list of inscribed locations. It does provide a single grid reference – which Google Maps shows to be near to Badaling but not actually on the Wall itself! So what exactly was originally nominated and inscribed? It was certainly an issue which the Evaluation felt needed to be addressed since, in April 1987, the Bureau of the WHC meeting received a report from ICOMOS which expressed concerns about what exactly it was which China was trying to get inscribed - "It is obviously not possible to guarantee the integral protection of the 50,000 kms of ancient walls preserved in China (this figure includes the fortifications of the inner kingdoms), nor even the some 6,000 kms of great walls erected in the north, approximately half of which subsist materially.
It is, however, indispensable for the World Heritage Committee to ascertain whether the government of the People's Republic of China envisages, as it would seem, making a global classification of the Great Wall or, on the contrary, delimiting specific representative sections, according to principal periods of construction or principal regions crossed (desert plateaux, mountains, valleys, etc.), or the different types of associated fortifications (fortresses, garrisons, fortified gates, bastions, terraces, watch towers, etc.). In the absence of these specifications, the present proposal may, in fact, be taken in various ways. This will inevitably bring about conflicts in the short term as to the definition of the property and in the medium term as to the role the international community might play in cooperation with the People's Republic of China concerning the study and conservation of the Great Wall."
(ICOMOS evaluation submitted to the Bureau April 1987)
The issue must then have been followed up since, by the time the full WHC met 6 months later and inscribed the site, it had been "clarified" as follows -"It is obviously not possible to guarantee the integral protection of the 50,000kms of ancient walls preserved in China (this figure includes the fortifications of the inner Kingdoms), nor even the 6,000kms of the great walls erected in the north, approximately half of which subsist materially.
By letter of 20 May 1987, the government of the People's Republic of China expressed its will to enhance in priority some representative sections of the Ming Wall. However the Great Wall "has to be considered and protected as a whole". These specifications seemed to satisfy the Bureau of the Committee which recommended the inscription".
(ICOMOS evaluation for the WHC Oct 1987)
What on Earth does that mean? Was it left deliberately unclear or was China in effect agreeing to limit the inscription only to "some representative sections of the Ming Wall" – and, if so, which? Of course there is no reason why an inscription of "The Great Wall" should require ALL of it to be included - but perhaps that wasn't fully appreciated by either China back in 1987. When Spain nominated its Santiago Route in 1993 the implication was that the entire route was being nominated (Spain had legally protected not only specific towns/villages/buildings but also a "30 mtre strip on either side" of the entire route!!) ICOMOS queried whether the guidelines allowed such an inscription since the route wasn't a coherent entity unlike the Great Wall which, it said (completely incorrectly!!) was a "continuous military structure with a clear identity".
But, rather than proposing a representative approach, it recommended a Working Party to review the Operational Guidelines to allow it! However, by 1998, when France nominated its own Santiago Route, the proposal was clearly limited to a (long!) list of separate representative sites rather than an entire route. So perhaps time and experience has moved on and partial inscriptions of enormous entities do not have to be regarded as failures to preserve the un-inscribed parts.
However, if inscription only applies to certain representative sections, it is rather surprising that, as of 2010, the UNESCO Web site still implies that the inscribed site of "The Great Wall" is situated in the 17 provinces of "Liaoning, Jilin, Hebei, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Gansu, Xinjiang, Shandong, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan, Qinghai".
This enormous list of provinces is only possible if the inscribed site does indeed extend way beyond the Ming wall itself, let alone selected representative sections of it! Anyone interested in understanding where all the various walls which could be encompassed within the term "Great Wall" are situated and when, over a period stretching from around 680BC to 1644AD, they were constructed, should look at these 2 links http://www.travelchinaguide.com/china_great_wall/map/
The UNESCO Short Description talks about "when the Great Wall became the world's largest military structure."
But the term "The Great Wall" (singular) is a misnomer. There are numerous different walls, never constituting a single "military structure", scattered across Northern/Western China which were relevant at very different historical times and geopolitical circumstances, albeit that many of them had a common theme of dividing "inside" an Empire from "outside". Though even this is not universal, since some predated "China" as now understood and were built by "inner kingdoms" situated well within the China which has existed since Qin times (E.g The Wall of the Qi Kingdom in present day Shandong). The term is probably most applicable to the Ming Wall but wasn't even originally an epithet used by the Chinese. No doubt China is correct in claiming "walls" in every one of the 17 provinces (though, despite a lot of searching, I have been unable to identify any in Hubei or Jilin!) but, in many cases, as ICOMOS identified even for the most recent Ming Wall, there is nothing substantial left – how much more so must it be the case for walls going back to 600BC. If a Great Wall nomination was being proposed today there seems little doubt that a far more "minimal" approach would be taken and there would be far greater emphasis on identifying elements which were being properly managed and preserved.
In fact, despite the residual "17 Provinces" claim on the UNESCO Web site the reality of inscription as of 2010 seems to be far more limited – and surprisingly so! The following quote taken from http://www.chinaheritagenewsletter.org/features.php?searchterm=001_greatwall.inc&issu e=001
sets out what appears to be the current situation in comparison to China's more public claims -"The elusive nature of the Great Wall is no better demonstrated than by the fact that while the Chinese media often state that the Great Wall is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage site, UNESCO in 1987 in fact listed several sites separately – Badaling (the section of the wall in Beijing best known to tourists, see Fig. 1), Shanhaiguan (the eastern "end" of the Ming wall near Qinhuangdao adjoining the coast in Hebei province, see Fig. 2) and Jiayuguan (the complex at the western end of the Ming wall in remote Gansu province, see Fig. 3). In November 2002 a section of the Ming Great Wall at Jiumenkou built on a riverbed in north-eastern China's Liaoning province was also listed by UNESCO. The 1,704-meter Jiumenkou wall section located in Xintaizi village, Suizhong county, crosses a 100-meter wide river, where the wall takes on the characteristics of a stone bridge comprising a battery of eight piers and nine sluice gates. Built in 1381, the Jiumenkou section has undergone several major repairs and renovations. The Great Wall section at Jiumenkou became the 27th site in China to be listed by UNESCO."
The following UNESCO reports from 2002 would seem to confirm that only 3 Ming Wall sites were then regarded as being inscribed http://whc.unesco.org/archive/periodicreporting/apa/cycle01/section2/438-summary.pdf
(continued in next post)