Entitled The Great Wall Of China  H Ponting. [RESTORED] I repaired spots and small defects, adjusted contrast, tonality, and adding a sepia tone.
Ponting's placement of a person (or in this case, persons) somewhere in the foreground was a de rigueur photographic technique of the day. It was done primarily to add a human element and to provide a sense of scale to the scene.
The Great Wall of China 萬里長城 is a misnomer (at least in its English translation, the Chinese meaning is more along the lines of "ten thousand Li long city"). It would be more accurate to describe it as the Great Walls of China, as they are the remnants from a historic series of stone and earthen barriers. Erected throughout northern China, they were mostly built and revised over two thousand years between the 5th century BC and the 16th century. Origins of each wall section from various times were contingent upon their political and military needs in accordance to their dynastic periods.
The oldest, original walls were constructed for the purposes of protecting against Xiongnu nomadic incursions into the areas occupied by the various disparate states that were to later form China. After the Qin consolidation, these separate structures were then integrated into an almost continuous whole, mostly using rammed earth structures. Unfortunately, little of that wall actually exists today. The majority of the wall that still remains (ie the one that we have generally come to know) was built during the Ming dynasty, which relied more heavily on integration of brick and masonry work. History, legends and myths about the Great Wall abound. In the last hundred year or so, industrialization and modernization of the areas which the wall passes through has endangered it as entire sections were destroyed to reclaim construction materials. Other sections were refurbished, in some cases rebuilt using modern engineering, and have seen heavy use as tourist attractions; still others have been entirely overgrown or reclaimed by nature. Reportedly, less than 30 percent of the wall remains intact. Nevertheless, it is considered to be one of the most important historic constructions of man and specific parts of it was listed since 1987 as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The present wall starts from Shanhaiguan, dipping into the Bohai Sea in the east, and ends at Xinjiang's Lop Nur in the west, following along the southern border of the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia. The most comprehensive survey to date has determined that the wall as currently recognized covers a distance of 8,851.8 km (or 5,500.3 miles), consisting of 6,259.6 km (3,889.5 miles) actual wall, combined with various other structures like trenches and natural defensive barriers of impassable hills and rivers. Contrary to popular myth, you cannot see the wall from outer space or the moon.
The Great Wall varies from tourist trap (like the section at Badaling, near Beijing) to extreme, off the beaten path wilderness. Certain sections are so dangerous that it would be suicidal to attempt ascending unless one has special climbing equipment with a technical and advanced mountaineering support team. Try as I might, I was not able to gather any real statistics on Great Wall related accidents or deaths, which is unusual as every tourist location has accidents. In any case, I suspect that the PRC government doesn't really want to keep such statistics to begin with.
In another forum dedicated to just information about the Great Wall, one writer told of how one tourist was killed, and offered some safety tips: