Survey to size up just how great is China's Great Wall

Researchers hope to determine through a four-year geographical survey of the great wall, the exact length as well as its precise route and condition of the fortification.

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BEIJING:  Just how great is China's Great Wall? China researchers hope to determine that through a four-year geographical survey of the ancient fortification that will determine its exact length as well as its precise route and condition, state media reported on Sunday.

The wall's length is routinely estimated at more than 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles), but the lack of a comprehensive survey has left the exact figure unknown.

Just as important, researchers hope to gain a clear picture of how the wall, which was begun more than 2,000 years ago, is holding up, Xinhua news agency said.   

The Great Wall has come under greater assault recently than perhaps any other time since the days of the barbarian hordes it was built to repel, as souvenir hunters and construction crews pilfer pieces of its masonry and visitors carve their initials into its stones.

The central government last year imposed severe new fines as high as 63,000 dollars to stop a range of activities seen as harming the wall - such as building unauthorised structures on it, prying out bricks and holding all-night 'raves' along its crest.

The survey will be conducted across 13 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, Xinhua said. 

Archaeologists and historians had urged the government to organise the survey to give the people of the world a comprehensive and accurate understanding of the great structure, it said.   

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