Six Famous Walls

Sometimes it's hard to come up something to write about. But when you stare at the wall to think of a subject, it seems natural to write about walls. Here are six of the most notable.

Jericho

The Walls of Jericho were made famous by tumbling down. The city of Jericho, on the West Bank near the Jordan River, has been occupied in one form or another since 9,000 BC. The Book of Joshua in the Bible describes the Battle of Jericho, where the Hebrews circled the town seven times and the defensive walls of the city collapsed. It was the Israelites' first victory in the conquest of Canaan. Archaeology at the site shows the city has been destroyed and rebuilt many times.

Hadrian's Wall
435_hadrians_wall.jpg
Hadrian's Wall was built in England by the Roman army in 122-130 AD. Of several defensive walls they constructed, Hadrian's Wall is the most famous, because parts of it still survive today. It originally extended from Segedunum to the shore of the Solway Firth, a distance of 117 kilometers. The official purpose of the wall was to defend against the Picts of the north, although there is some speculation that it was also to give the Roman legions something to do while occupying England.

More walls, after the jump.

Pink Floyd
435_pf-thewall.jpg
The Wall by Pink Floyd was recorded in 1979. Over 30 million copies have been sold, and the album is often cited in various lists of "best albums." It was made into a movie in 1982. Floyd's Roger Waters intended to star in the movie, which was planned even before the album was recorded, but after he failed his screens tests, Bob Geldof was cast in the lead role. The Wall refers to a psychological wall the protagonist builds to isolate himself from the world around him.

The Western Wall

435_wailing_wall_crowd.jpg
The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is a retaining wall in Jerusalem that survives from the time of the Second Jewish Temple. It is the closest area to the original Holy of Holies that is publicly accessible for Jewish prayer and worship. The original location of the Temple is under control of a Muslim council; it is also the site of the Dome of the Rock, a sacred Islamic shrine.

The Berlin Wall
435_Berlin-wall-dancing.jpg
The Berlin Wall was the ultimate symbol of the Cold War for 28 years. After World War II, control of Germany was divided between the Allies. Although Berlin lay within the Soviet zone, it was also divided among American, British, French, and Soviet rule. In the years after the war, so many citizens left East Berlin for the relative freedom of the other zones that the USSR began construction of the wall in 1961, effectively isolating West Berlin. Approximately 5,000 people still escaped to the free zones, and around 192 people were killed in the attempt. On November 9, 1989, the wall and its effective purpose fell under pressure from thousands of protesters and refugees. East and West Germany were formally reunited a year later.

The Great Wall of China
435_Greatwall.jpg
The Great Wall of China is the most famous wall of all. 6,400 kilometers long, it is the longest human-built structure ever. The first parts of the wall were built in the 5th century BC, and was added to and repaired through the 16th century. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Over 130 million tourists have visited the most accessible part of the wall, at Badaling, just north of Beijing.This photo is by Flickr user Saad.

What other walls belong in the "famous" category?

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
iStock
iStock

One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Sylvia Plath's Pulitzer Prize in Poetry Is Up for Auction
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Nate D. Sanders Auctions

A Pulitzer Prize in Poetry that was awarded posthumously to Sylvia Plath in 1982 for her book The Collected Poems will be auctioned on June 28. The Los Angeles-based Nate D. Sanders Auctions says bidding for the literary document will start at $40,000.

The complete book of Plath’s poetry was published in 1981—18 years after her death—and was edited by her husband, fellow poet Ted Hughes. The Pulitzer Prize was presented to Hughes on Plath’s behalf, and one of two telegrams sent by Pulitzer President Michael Sovern to Hughes read, “We’ve just heard that the Collected Plath has won the Pulitzer Prize. Congratulations to you for making it possible.” The telegrams will also be included in the lot, in addition to an official congratulatory letter from Sovern.

The Pultizer’s jury report from 1982 called The Collected Poems an “extraordinary literary event.” It went on to write, “Plath won no major prizes in her lifetime, and most of her work has been posthumously published … The combination of metaphorical brilliance with an effortless formal structure makes this a striking volume.”

Ted Hughes penned an introduction to the poetry collection describing how Plath had “never scrapped any of her poetic efforts,” even if they weren’t all masterpieces. He wrote:

“Her attitude to her verse was artisan-like: if she couldn’t get a table out of the material, she was quite happy to get a chair, or even a toy. The end product for her was not so much a successful poem, as something that had temporarily exhausted her ingenuity. So this book contains not merely what verse she saved, but—after 1956—all she wrote.”

Also up for auction is Plath’s Massachusetts driver’s license from 1958, at which time she went by the name Sylvia P. Hughes. Bidding for the license will begin at $8000.

Plath's driver's license
Nate D. Sanders Auctions

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios