Talk:History of the Great Wall of China

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Comment re: length[edit]

This is a pretty well developed article, but I think the length seriously needs to be trimmed (we're at 78375 characters (12941 words) of readable prose size and counting). WP:SIZERULE suggests splitting the article further (since this is already a subarticle, I don't think that's the best approach, but it may work), but I also suggest removing some extraneous information (lifespans of the historiographers, stuff like that). — Crisco 1492 (talk) 16:18, 26 January 2014 (UTC)

About that, I've always been unsure whether and when to put lifespans (or reign years) after mentioning a name. Is there a standard somewhere that deals with this? _dk (talk) 18:18, 26 January 2014 (UTC)
  • It's common in historiography, though on Wikipedia it's more of a personal style. IMO, for the emperors etc. the years of their reign provide adequate chronological context (i.e. when, roughly, did these events happen?), but the lifespan of the historians is not really relevant to the topic at hand. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:16, 26 January 2014 (UTC)

Sources on the Great Wall construction during the Ming dynasty[edit]

Great wall construction

05:10, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

MILHIST assessment[edit]

Hard to do with such a long article, but a good proofreading would bring this up to "B" standards. The grammar/usage errors appear to be remnants of earlier edits -- the stray word that doesn't fit the current sentence -- and some redundancy, as in an "imperial empire." --Lineagegeek (talk) 16:25, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

Practice run for GA[edit]

Hi everybody. I think _dk did an amazing job writing this article, and judging from the barnstars, many of you agree with me! I propose we now work together to take the article to GA class, and eventually to featured article status. We've got some of the best editors in WikiProject China working on this, so we can definitely do it!

Rincewind42 and Lineagegeek have both assessed the article as C class, mostly because the lede is too short (Rincewind42's point) and because the text needs a good proofreading (Lineagegeek's point). I agree with both, but I think we're also close to GA status. Looking at the criteria for GA, I'd say the article only falls short on points 1a [prose], 1b (lead section and a few "words to watch"), and 3b ["stays focused on the topic without going into unnecessary detail (see summary style)"]. None of these should pose a problem, though they might take a little time because the article is long.

Now I'd like to start some kind of "pre-GA" review for one section to see how much work we need to do. I chose to start with the first section of "Song and the conquest dynasties (907–1368)". My comments are very detailed, but my goal is not to be picky, it's to improve the article so that it gets the recognition it deserves! If you find this useful, I will try to continue with the other sections. Madalibi (talk) 19:41, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

Comments on "The Wall of Genghis Khan": walls of the Khitan, Jurchens, and Tanguts

  • In recent times, although these walls...: "recently" and similar expressions are among what the Manual of Style calls "words to avoid" (see WP:RELTIME). Could someone clarify what "in recent times" refers to?
  • they have acquired the nickname "the Wall of Genghis Khan": this name is only mentioned in the NatGeo article, which is about a Western Xia wall that is now in Mongolia. This sentence makes it seem as though the Liao and Jin walls are also called "the Wall of Genghis Khan", which is not true. This sentence belongs in the section's last paragraph, where the Western Xia walls are discussed, and "the Wall of Genghis Khan" should be removed from the section title.
  • These non-Chinese walls were contemporarily referred to as waibao (外堡, "outer fortresses") in Chinese, öngü in Mongolian, and yoqurqa in Turkish. (1) Waldron doesn't say that these walls were called that at the time. His footnote refers to a 1950 study on Genghis Khan and to a work by Paul Pelliot, who probably heard these terms during his fieldwork in the relevant regions. (2) Waldron says that only "the longest Chin walls" were so-called, not all the walls built by conquest dynasties, so this sentence should probably be moved to the end of the section's 3rd paragraph, where Jin walls are discussed.
  • although these walls have no direct connection with Genghis Khan: do they have an indirect connection with Genghis Khan, then? Simplify to "no connection"? Also the NatGeo source only says that this wall "wasn't the work of Genghis Khan or his heirs", but suggests that they were built to fend off Mongols (or at least precursors of the Mongols).
  • Nevertheless these walls are regarded as part of the Great Wall system: by whom? This sentence may actually be unnecessary. The sole fact that we're discussing this "wall of Genghis Khan" shows that we are considering them part of the "Great Wall system", which is the modern concept that allows us to discuss all these walls in the same article even if they were built by different states, at different times, and for different purposes.
  • Amid the feuding warlord dynasties in China in the post-Tang Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, the Khitan chieftain Abaoji...: is *amid* the right word, here? The link sounds vague.
  • ...establishing the Liao dynasty in 907...: maybe I'm being too picky, but technically the "Great Liao" was only founded in 947. In 907, Abaoji only proclaimed himself Great Khan of the Khitans.
  • ...came to possess the crucial border region known as the Sixteen Prefectures through political wrangling...: "political wrangling" sounds more colloquial than encyclopedic. Also, a few more details would probably help readers. They can be found, with the necessary references, on the page Sixteen Prefectures.
  • In 908, Abaoji extended the Great Wall to the mouth of the Liao River: many problems with this sentence.... (1) In 907, they were still nomadic warriors, so 908 sounds very fast for the Khitan's sinicization or turn to a sedentary lifestyle, as suggested by the previous sentence. (2) This sentence also makes it seem like the concept of "the Great Wall" was already used at the time. One of Waldron's points in his book is that this concept is actually quite recent, and that we shouldn't project it into the past. I suggest we rephrase to something less anachronistic. (3) Point 1 is enhanced when we think that the Liao only obtained the Sixteen Prefectures (which contained "the main Great Wall line") in the 930s. If they didn't control the main Great Wall line in 908, how and from where could they extend it to the mouth of the Liao River? (4) Finally I think this sentence sounds more self-assured than the source that supports it. The relevant passage of "Wittfogel & Feng 1946, p. 367" is a translation of "築長城於鎮東海口" from History of Liao (juan 1, p. 3 of the usual Zhonghua Shuju edition) as "The Great Wall was extended to the sea-mouth of Chen-tung." (The translation seems wrong: it should be more like "long walls were built" [see point 2]). In a footnote, they say that zhendong haikou 鎮東海口 "occurs only once in the Liao Shih" and "is difficult to explain". They state that Zhendong "was probably the military name of T'ung 同 Prefecture" and refer to Liaoshi 38, p. 469, which speaks of Tongzhou 同州 as Zhen'anjun 鎮安軍. Even if Tongzhou 同州 was on the Liao River about 200 kilometers off the coast (see Tan Qixiang's historical atlas, vol. 6, pp. 8–9, coordinates 8–11), Wittfogel & Feng conclude that if Zhendong was indeed Tongzhou/Zhen'anjun, "the sea-mouth would then be the mouth of the Liao River". This all sounds pretty speculative to me. Of course, we can't introduce this kind of analysis into our article, so I'm not sure what to do with this sentence. Any suggestions?
  • 1026 the walls saw further extension...: "saw" is a weak main verb. And "north of Nong'an County to the banks of the Songhua River" sounds awfully far from existing walls to be called an "extension"!
  • ...these walls did not stop the Liao vassals the Jurchens...: had they been designed to stop the Jurchens? If so, this fact should be mentioned in the previous sentence. If not, this formulation is misleading.
  • The Jin applied increased energy to the Liao's wall-building activities...: makes it sounds like the Jin worked for the Liao. Could you clarify?
  • Further walls arose: not sure this is the right wording.
  • between 1165 and 1181...from 1192 to 1203...: Waldron 1990 (p. 49) says that "large-scale work was carried out in 1181; and additional construction was completed in 1198". The dates don't match. Is there a good reason to prefer Bush 1981 (who bases her dates on a 1954 study by a Japanese scholar) over Waldron 1990? Do we know where Waldron got his 1198 date? I also note that Bush speaks of 1165 and 1181 instead of a range of dates: correct that?
  • ...inner moats ranging from 10 to 60 metres (33 to 197 ft)* in width, beacon towers at irregular intervals, semicircular platforms on the outside of the wall...: this is too close to Waldron's wording: "with the inner moat ranging from ten to even sixty meters in width. Beacon towers, at irregular intervals, are associated with Chin walls, as too are semicircular platforms on the outside of the walls". Could you rephrase this to avoid copyright violation issues? If these descriptions are too technical to be reworded, they could also be put in quotation marks and attributed to Waldron.
  • stood more than 2.75 metres (9 ft 0 in) tall: the NatGeo article states that the walls are "preserved to a height of 9 feet (2.75 meters) in places" and that the wall "originally stood at least 2 meters (6.5 feet) taller than it does today." It's hard to give an exact height from these figures. "More than 2.75 m tall" is technically correct, but it suggests less than 3 meters tall, which I think is too short. Not sure how to reword, though...
  • the Xia Great Wall in this location may have been incomplete: was there really a "Xia Great Wall" or are we again being misled by the modern concept of "the Great Wall"? And I don't understand what it would mean for the Xia walls to be "incomplete", here. Clarify?
  • Two general comments based on this section: (1) I think we should hear more about why these states built so many walls. Who were they defending themselves against? I understand that not all studies answer this question, but some do, including the NatGeo article, yet the paragraph based on that article doesn't present this information. (2) I also find that the text takes the concept of "the Great Wall" too much for granted. Waldron is the most cited author in the article (60 references out of 212, and many more if you count merged footnotes), yet his main point that there was no such thing as "the Great Wall" sometimes gets ignored. For example, we hear about "the Xia Great Wall" and we're told that "Abaoji extended the Great Wall". I haven't read the rest of the article as closely as this section, but I think this issue applies throughout.

Ok, getting very tired, so I'll stop here. See you all around! Madalibi (talk) 19:41, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

Thank you Madalibi! This is very helpful and exactly what I need. I don't have some of the sources available with me right now (most crucially Waldron 1990), but I will deal with these points the best I can. Then, without going through my sources in detail, I'll respond in a preliminary manner:
  • "The Walls of Genghis Khan" seems to be a catch-all phrase to refer to lines of raised earth that are found throughout Mongolia (According to this Daily Mail article and the attached map). They may be "Great Wall" remnants from the Han (from the Daily Mail article), the Xia (from the NatGeo article), the Liao, Jin, or Yuan (from this China Daily article). Or they may just be irrigation ditches and walls to prevent gazelle migration built by local herders. Strangely, these claims are all attributable to the British researcher William Lindesay. John Man's half-history half-travelogue The Great Wall devotes a whole chapter to his search of the "Wall of Genghis Khan". These are why I saw fit to use that phrase to refer to wall remnants in Mongolia. I realize now that could be vague, so I will remove it from the heading and include an explanation of that term in relation with the Great Wall. The "Wall of Genghis Khan" can be a subject of its own article in the future, I think.
  • The names of the Jin walls: I now think that if those names of the wall were relatively modern, then it is of limited usefulness in an article about history (especially the Mongolian and Turkish names). They can go to a "Names" section in the main Great Wall article.
  • Someone will have to write it, likely me :/ I will have to borrow Waldron 1990 again though. _dk (talk) 13:37, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
  • The gain of the Sixteen Prefectures through "political wrangling": A previous version of the article had a blurb about Abaoji's son gaining the 16 prefectures as a result of helping Shi Jingtang propping up his state, but I later decided that was too much detail on a tangential matter and simplified it.[1] The balance between providing adequate context and not going into too much detail is hard to master :/
  • True indeed, and the article is already very long, but this is the kind of historical detail that could be more relevant than the Mongolian and Turkic names, for example. I'm also thinking that some details about Khubilai Khan's inner Asian policies could be cut, unless we develop the theme of "the wall in Chinese relations to Inner Asia" more explicitly throughout. Madalibi (talk) 10:18, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Anachronistic references to the "Great Wall": As a result of my jumping around dynasties when writing the article and taking so many other references at face value, I seemed to have lost track of when I should and should not use the term "Great Wall", I'm so sorry Dr. Waldron :(
  • Bush vs Waldron: Indeed, the dates don't match. Since I couldn't find where Waldron got that number I went with Bush instead. However, this is a valid concern and I am not sure whose dates I should use, or both?
  • 1165 and 1181 rather than 1165 to 1181 would get rid of one discrepancy, but 1198 is still mysterious. I'll try to check the History of Jin under that year when I have time... Madalibi (talk)
  • The incomplete Xia wall: That was from the NatGeo article, with William Lindesay saying that the wall didn't seem able to accommodate troops and give smoke signals, basically "half-built".
  • Ok, I see. I think the current wording doesn't convey that clearly enough. Madalibi (talk) 10:18, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
Thank you once again! Your most excellent input is very much appreciated :) _dk (talk) 09:41, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, I'm glad to help, and I'll keep adding comments when I have time! Madalibi (talk) 10:18, 13 February 2014 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:27, 18 March 2015 (UTC)

New presentation order for the section "Song and the conquest dynasties (907–1368)"?[edit]

The section titled "The old Great Walls as Song boundary lines" starts with "Han Chinese power rose again with the Song dynasty (960–1279)..." This kind of opening may be misleading, because the previous section just claimed that Han Chinese lost control of the walls for over 400 years starting in 907. Another problem is that this section takes us back in time, since the previous section has already discussed the Jin till 1203 and the Xi Xia till about 1160. Finally, this arrangement forces us to discuss the Liao in two different sections.

To make the narrative flow better, I propose we re-arrange the first two sections of "Song and the conquest dynasties (907–1368)". Because the Song's wall-related activities predated the entire Jin dynasty, we'd first discuss the Song together with the Liao, then more on to the Jin, and finally the Mongols. The new order of presentation would be: (1) 907: fall of Tang and founding of Liao. (2) The Liao obtain the Sixteen Prefectures. (3) Song–Liao rivalry. (4) The Liao's own wall building activities. (5) Song–Xia rivalries and Xia wall building. (6) Jin defeat of the Liao, seizure of the Sixteen Prefectures, and conquest of the Northern Song. (7) Jin wall building. These would not be section names, just a general order of presentation. I'd say the sections themselves would be: Song–Liao; Song–Xia; Jin (with more elegant titles). :-) And Jin walls built to ward off pre-Mongols would be a great transition to the section on the Mongols themselves!

Would this new order of presentation be ok with everybody? Madalibi (talk) 10:05, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

Fine by me, but I'll defer to User:_dk's view. Sigh ... if only these Chinese emperors had adopted a consecutive order for their dynasties with no overlap :) ► Philg88 ◄ Star.pngtalk 11:11, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
My original idea was the keep the two zones separate: 1) Mongolia where the "conquest dynasties" built their walls, and 2) the original "line of the Great Wall". This would limit the geographical leaping back and forth, while keeping the "protagonist" consistent before going to the next one, unified by the narrative of these states defending against "the north". Obviously, this approach has its problems and I'm open to whatever works best, but I thought I should explain why the sections are arranged this way when I wrote it. _dk (talk) 13:20, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:History of the Great Wall of China/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Hchc2009 (talk · contribs) 17:56, 13 April 2014 (UTC)


(a) the prose is clear and concise, respects copyright laws, and the spelling and grammar are correct;

  • "stemmed from a difference in geography." - I'd have gone for "differences in geography" (but not a GA-dependent point)?
  • "As Karl August Wittfogel points out" - I'd always recommend explaining who someone is when they're introduced, e.g. "As the Sinologist Karl...". Given that he's passed away, I'd also recommend "pointed out"
  • "Likewise, according to this model, " - I think you're right to emphasise that this is a model (and there are others out there), but if so, it needs to emphasised at the start of the paragraph, otherwise it sounds like undisputed fact.
  • Not needed at GA, but at ACR or similar I'd be recommending David Sneath's "The Headless State" as an alternative reading of some of the history here.
  • "Although Manchuria hosted the agricultural lands of the Liao River valley," - I wasn't sure about the "hosted" verb here (the agricultural lands in question couldn't easily move to a different host!) How about "held the agricultural lands" (or contained?) Hchc2009 (talk) 08:23, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
  • "Among the first mentions of a wall built against northern invaders is found in a poem," I think there's a word missing here (the sentence doesn't have a subject in it) - could be "One of the first mentions..." or "is an account found in a poem"?
  • "Most importantly, the fall of Western Zhou redistributed power to the states within and without Zhou's nominal rulership" - "states within and wihout..." read a bit awkwardly to me (I've heard of "within a kingdom" or "within an empire" or "within borders" but not "within rulership")
  • "The rule of the Eastern Zhou dynasty would be marked" - minor, but could just be "was marked" (avoiding the conditional)
  • "Three lines of walls were dated to be around King Wuling's reign: " unclear when this dating took place (and also quite what was meant; are these extant walls? Or did he only built three lines?)
  • "The walls were erected sparingly where natural barriers like ravines and rivers sufficed for defence, but long fortified lines were laid" This could be read in two ways up until halfway through the sentence; I'd advise "Where natural barriers like ravines and rivers sufficed for defence, the walls were erected sparingly, but long fortified lines were laid..."
  • "Details of the construction were not found in the official histories," - minor, but would "in the contemporary histories" (or "contemporary chronicles"?) be clearer?
    • Fixed I have made clear of what is meant by "official histories" with a wikilink. This is to distinguish what we know from the official histories (namely the Twenty Four Histories) from the caches of local histories and private clan annals that could have records of wall construction in Qin times, but is not currently known. _dk (talk) 11:56, 26 April 2014 (UTC)
  • " The Cambridge History of China posits that " minor, but I'd recommend naming Bodde, given that this is his judgment.
  • "The settlement in the north continued up to Qin Shi Huang's death in 210 BC," - I wasn't 100% sure if this meant that the attempt to settle the north continued up until 210 BC, ("The settlement of the north") or if this was the date of when "Meng Tian's settlements in the north were abandoned", mentioned in the next paragraph ("The settlements in the north...").
  • "In 202 BC, the peasant-turned faction leader Liu Bang" - struck me as an odd phrase. How about "In 202 BC, the former peasant Liu Bang"?
  • "emperor of the Han dynasty" - I think the MOS would have this as "Emperor of the Han dynasty"
  • "to negotiate with the Xiongnu for appeasement." - I'm not sure this is right; did he really negotiate "for" appeasement? (i.e. he wanted appeasement from them) Or does it mean that he offered to appease the Xiongu? The next sentence, "the Han would offered tributes along with princesses" is also a bit unclear - are the Han offering tributes, or being offered tributes?
  • "the Xiongnu cavalry numbering up to a 100,000 " - "numbering up to 100,000"?
  • " the Xianbei emperor" - this seems to be a specific emperor, so should be capitalised under the MOS
    • Fixed "Xianbei" is the name of the people (think "Manchus"). Clarifying this and the fact that more than one emperor sinicized by applying the plural form to "emperor". _dk (talk) 11:56, 26 April 2014 (UTC)
  • "succeeded by the Northern Qi (550–575) in the east and Northern Zhou (557–580) in the west" - the "northern Qi in the east" and "northern Zhou in the west" caused be to doubletake at first. I'm wondering if the "in the east" and "in the west" are actually needed in this context?
    •  Done I would say the east and west part provides a geographical context preparing the reader for the next bit, detailing where the Qi and Zhou constructed their walls. But I see what you mean, I removed them. _dk (talk) 11:56, 26 April 2014 (UTC)
  • "stood poised for the conquest of the Jin dynasty." - felt a little melo-dramatic for my personal tastes, but not strictly a GA point.
  • "installed the emperor's brother" - should be "emperor's brother"
    •  Question: I'm sorry, what is to be changed here? _dk (talk) 11:56, 26 April 2014 (UTC)
  • My fault! I meant should be "the Emperor's brother". Hchc2009 (talk) 17:12, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
  • "At its height, the Xuan–Da portion of the Great Wall totalled about 850 kilometres (530 mi) of wall, with some sections being doubled-up, tripled, or even quadrupled." - was unclear if this was doubled-up as in length, or doubled-up with two lines of wall. If the former I'd recommend "with some sections being doubled in length"; if the latter, I'd make that clear.
  • "jailed on charges of faulty and wasteful wall-building" - is this a direct translation? I could see what was meant, but it sounded a bit quaint/amusing ("you are guilty of wasteful wall-building!") - is there any other way it could be described?
  • "the Ming court assembled a four-pronged Chinese–Korean army numbering above a 100,000 men" - "numbering over 100,000 men"; btw, I wasn't sure that the "four-pronged" bit was adding anything to this paragraph.
  • "On the 7th of October 1834, we arrived at the Great Wall, so highly extolled by those who know nothing about it, and so emphatically described by those who have never seen it. This and other wonders of China should only be seen in pictures to maintain their reputation." - particularly given it is so prominent, the main text needs to describe who the quote is from.
    • minus Removed _dk (talk) 11:56, 26 April 2014 (UTC)
  • "The notion of a colossal wall in Asia existed in the Middle East..." "The existence of a colossal wall in Asia had circulated in the Middle East..."?
  • "and the other western powers" - I think this should be "Western"
  • "double their number of Japanese troop for several months. " - "Japanese troops"
  • "as part of the Four Olds to be" - I'd put Four Olds in speechmarks
  • "the Great Wall near Beijing "looking like a Hollywood set"." - worth noting who the quote is from in the main text. Hchc2009 (talk) 15:21, 25 April 2014 (UTC)

(b) it complies with the manual of style guidelines for lead sections, layout, words to watch, fiction, and list incorporation.

  • I'm not sure about the lead. I'm not sure that the first paragraph adequately summarises the article - which is quite long, with lots of excellent information! The second and third paragraphs then don't seem to be reflected in the main text (which I presume is why they're referenced independently), when I would have expected the information in them to already be down below. Have a look at WP:LEAD for more on the policy around this. Hchc2009 (talk) 08:01, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
    •  Question: I...I am not sure what to put in the lead myself due to the abundance of information. The second and third paragraph actually does reflect the "Modern China" section, albeit very briefly in a "skimmy" way. The references in the lead were copied from the main text down below or are within the realms of common knowledge (like the Great Wall being a national symbol). _dk (talk) 11:56, 26 April 2014 (UTC)
  • I'm up for trying to draft something on this page as a strawman for you to edit if you like? I've had the same problem myself with longer articles, so I know how you feel. Hchc2009 (talk) 17:12, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Yes please, that would be most helpful. :) _dk (talk) 18:13, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

Factually accurate and verifiable:

(a) it provides references to all sources of information in the section(s) dedicated to the attribution of these sources according to the guide to layout;

  • Mostly, yes. I couldn't work out what "Zhongguo changcheng yiji diaocha baogao ji, 131." was referring to in the citation notes though. Hchc2009 (talk) 08:01, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
Comment Confusing pinyin references switched to English, now reads Collected reports on surveys of the Great Wall of China (translated title).  Philg88 talk 08:37, 24 April 2014 (UTC)

(b) it provides in-line citations from reliable sources for direct quotations, statistics, published opinion, counter-intuitive or controversial statements that are challenged or likely to be challenged, and contentious material relating to living persons—science-based articles should follow the scientific citation guidelines;

  • Yes. Hchc2009 (talk) 08:01, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
  • "In China, one of the first individuals to attempt a multi-dynastic history of the Great Wall" - this paragraph is missing references. Hchc2009 (talk) 15:21, 25 April 2014 (UTC)
    • Fixed _dk (talk) 11:56, 26 April 2014 (UTC)

(c) it contains no original research.

  • None found so far. Hchc2009 (talk) 08:01, 24 April 2014 (UTC)

Broad in its coverage:

(a) it addresses the main aspects of the topic;

  • Appears to at this stage. Hchc2009 (talk) 19:18, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

(b) it stays focused on the topic without going into unnecessary detail (see summary style).

Neutral: it represents viewpoints fairly and without bias, giving due weight to each.

  • Appears neutral. Hchc2009 (talk) 19:18, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

Stable: it does not change significantly from day to day because of an ongoing edit war or content dispute.

Illustrated, if possible, by images:

(a) images are tagged with their copyright status, and valid fair use rationales are provided for non-free content;

  • File:Gobi desert map.png; the underlying terrain data needs a US NASA tag.
Question? I cannot find a NASA template for data, only for complete images.  Philg88 talk 04:53, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
  • File:Shanhaiguan.gif; needs a date (even if approximate) to justify the tag; the PD-Art template needs to be filled in; and it needs a US copyright tag
 Done Dated to Ming Dynasty, licence updated to PD-100.  Philg88 talk 04:53, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
  • File:Greatwall 1933 china.jpg needs a US copyright tag. Hchc2009 (talk) 19:15, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
Not done US copyright unexpired based on a creation date of 1933. PRC copyright tag in place  Philg88 talk 04:53, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
If it's lacking a valid US copyright tag, then it shouldn't be being used here; I think you're right, though, as it appears to be anonymous and with no evidence of publication, so it would still be under copyright. Hchc2009 (talk) 08:01, 24 April 2014 (UTC)

(b) images are relevant to the topic, and have suitable captions.

Thank you Hchc2009 for your extensive review and suggestions! First of all I am terribly sorry to have responded so late: I forgot to put this review page on the watchlist thinking that I had done so already. I have acted on all the advice above and replied to specific points where appropriate. _dk (talk) 11:56, 26 April 2014 (UTC)

A rough strawman for a possible expanded lead: (NB: I haven't put any wikilinks in etc.)

The history of the Great Wall of China traditionally began when fortifications built by various states during the Spring and Autumn (771–476 bc) and Warring States periods (475–221 bc) were connected by the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, to protect his newly founded Qin dynasty (221–206 bc) against incursions by nomads from Inner Asia. The walls were built of rammed earth, constructed using forced labour, and by 212 bc ran from Gansu to the Manchurian coast.

Later dynasties adopted different policies towards the walls. The Han (202 bc – 220 ad), the Northern Qi (550–574), the Sui (589–618), and particularly the Ming (1369–1644) were among those that rebuilt, re-manned, and expanded the Walls, although they rarely followed Qin's original routes. The Han enhanced the walls with embankments, beacon stations, and forts, the Qi expanded the walls by about 1,600 kilometres (990 mi), while the Sui mobilised over a million men in their wall-building efforts.

Conversely, the Tang (618–907), the Song (960–1279), the Yuan (1271–1368), and the Qing (1644–1911) mostly left the Walls to rot, having resolved the Inner Asian threat through military campaigns and diplomacy (the Tang, Yuan, and Qing), or were simply took weak to build walls (the Song). At several points throughout its history the Great Wall failed to prevent invaders from conquering China, including in 1644 when the Manchu Qing marched through the gates of the Shanhai Pass and replaced the most ardent of the wall-building dynasties, the Ming, as rulers of China.

The Great Wall of China visible today largely dates from the Ming dynasty, who rebuilt much of the wall in stone and brick, often extending its line through challenging terrain. Some sections remain in relatively good condition or have been renovated while others have been damaged or destroyed for ideological reasons, robbed or demolished for their building materials, or lost due to the ravages of time. In the 21st century, the wall is a revered national symbol in modern China and a popular tourist destination.

Thanks @Hchc2009! I have incorporated this lead into the article with some adjustments (mainly reordering some phrases and to avoid implying that the Great Wall was one unitary structure). Please have a look to see if this is ok :) _dk (talk) 07:39, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
All looking good. Only remaining issue is the US copyright tag for File:Greatwall 1933 china.jpg, and it's good to go at GA. Hchc2009 (talk) 17:32, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
As it appears that we won't be able to determine the actual copyright status of that picture (shame too, hard hats on the wall is a good contrast to Nixon on the following picture.) I've swapped it with another Great Wall photo. _dk (talk) 08:34, 11 May 2014 (UTC)