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How 15th century workers built China's Forbidden City [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2013-11-6 13:49:33 |Display all floors
Chinese workers masterminded a super efficient way of moving huge chunks of stone 43 miles in order to build China's famous Forbidden City, engineers have claimed.

Records dating from around the time of which the walled city was built, from 1406, tell that workers hauled stones weighing over 100 tonnes from a quarry 43 miles away from the site of the Forbidden City, using a network of man-made paths.

However, 600 years later, engineers have revealed that a system of wells and frozen roads were used to make the stones slippery and easier to move and were more efficient than alternatives.

Engineers looked into the efficiency of how the workers moved the chunks of stone. They calculated that without using the warm water (top image) 338 men would be needed to pull a stone weighing 123 tonnes and measuring 31 feet long. But using warm water to lubricate the icy road, just 46 men would be needed to move it (pictured bottom)




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Post time 2013-11-6 13:50:25 |Display all floors

Experts from two universities in Beijing and Princeton University in the U.S. believe the workers dug small wells every 500 metres along the man-made paths to reach water that they would pour to ice the paths in the winter, as well as lubricate them.
It is believed teams of men pulled the vast pieces of stone themselves.

Engineers calculated the amount of friction different methods of moving the stones would produce, including the use of logs as rollers - which are believed to have been used in the creation of many ancient stone monuments.

But their calculations showed sliding the stones over ice and using water to lubricate it, was the most efficient method of all, PopSci reported.
The team of engineers said winter in Beijing, 600 years ago, was cold enough to keep the roads frozen but so chilly that the ice alone would not have made a good lubricating layer of water between the bottom of wooden sledges used to carry the stones and the surface of the icy paths.
However, they believe the men poured just enough warm water onto the ice so that it would stay liquid and help them slide the sled along more easily.

The engineers calculated that without using the warm water, 338 men would be needed to pull a stone weighing 123 tonnes and measuring 31 feet long.

However, using warm water to lubricate the icy road, just 46 men would be needed to heave the same massive stone along.
The weight and dimensions of the stone used for the calculations come from a document written in 1557 after the huge architectural project was finished, which says men transported stones 43 miles.


Chinese workers master-minded a smart way of moving huge chunks of stone 43 miles in order to build China's famous Forbidden City (pictured). Engineers said their system of icy paths lubricated with water to transport the stones, was the most efficient method



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Post time 2013-11-6 13:51:07 |Display all floors
The modern engineers believe that pulling sledges over ice paths lubricated with water, was a more efficient option that rolling the stones over logs.

In the study published in journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they said the coefficient (a quantitative expression of a specific property of matter) of friction for logs rolling along a path is 0.2 to 0.4, while using the water-and-ice-sliding method, has a coefficient of just 0.02.

The experts also said that sliding sledges is easier than using logs as it is easier to make a smooth ice road than to have to make a level one of planks and manoeuvre the log rollers as well as the huge chunk of stone.

Wheeled vehicles of the time would not have been able to support the weight of the large stones, according to the engineers, who think that the maximum weight carts would have been able to pull would have been 95 tonnes.

They said that ice roads and men were also more reliable than mules and carts, especially as the architects of the Forbidden City were reportedly worried about keeping the expensive stone safe.


The team of engineers said winter in Beijing 600 years ago was cold enough to keep roads frozen, which was useful for transporting stones. Here, Chinese paramilitary police officers shovel snow off a walkway in front of an old building in the Chinese capital



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