Keno and The Great Wall Of China

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I read, in passing a while ago, a very interesting little snippet of information: the Great Wall of China was partially funded by the game of Keno. How fascinating, I thought, I’d have to read into this at a later stage. The Great Wall of China is a veritable treasure trove of interesting facts, after all, not in the least because it’s the only man made structure visible from space.

What’s that? The Great Wall of China is the only man made structure visible from space? No it isn’t. You can, in point of fact, see just about any major city from space, though. And humans don’t only use 10% of their brains, while we’re on the subject of false facts.

If there was ever any doubt, humans use 100% of their brains. And furthermore, I urge you now to consider how anyone ever believed humans only use 10% of their brains. What exactly was the rest of the brain supposed to be for, absorbing impact?

Over the course of my life I’ve learned that humans can be extremely gullible creatures, believing just about anything so long as it happens to sound shocking enough to make others gasp. We do, as is obvious, so enjoy making one another gasp. If by shock or amazement, as long as someone is gasping we’re right at home.

So, with this in mind, I decided to try and find out if Keno really was used as a means to fund the Great Wall of China, or if this was another of those “shocking facts”, that are not facts at all.

Keno As A Fund Raiser

Keno is certainly very popularly used as a fundraising tool, this much is fact. Similar in style to many other lottery games, Keno is the exact right sort of game for the purpose of fundraising. All that is required is a few random number cards, a dozen or so players willing to participate, and you can be on your merry way to raising funds in no time at all.

But were funds for the Great Wall of China raised in this way, with the game of Keno?

The truth is, after about an hour of looking for information, that I honestly can’t tell you. This myth is one of those that doesn’t seem to have been seriously researched at any point, and the most information I can find on the topic are simple passing mentions.

The bit of information I could find talks about Cheung Leung, who ruled the Han Dynasty about 3000 years ago. Word is that Cheung was locked up in a war, and had run out of funds to keep the war going. Worried about taxing his residents in order to raise the funds (since he has already pushed taxes to their reasonable limit), he came up with a fund raising game: Keno.

Apparently, the story concludes, the same method was used later, when funds ran out while building the Great Wall of China. But is it true? Well, as far as I can tell, probably not.

Chinese Lottery

The fact is that the Chinese lottery was not official until long after the Great Wall of China was constructed. And this is fact, according to historical record. So, if Keno was used to fund the Great Wall of China, it must have been done beyond the official law, which sounds rather unlikely and somewhat suspicious.

This, of course, doesn’t make the idea of the Great Wall of China getting funding from Keno impossible, just somewhat unlikely.

So, why do I feel a little disappointed that the story likely isn’t true?

Facts That Make Us Gasp

I remember being told the gigantic lie about the Great Wall of China being visible from space in high school, by a history teacher no less. How, I ask myself now, in complete despair, did my history teacher take it upon herself to spread this lie, and not be bothered to take a few minutes to check if it was true? It honestly blows my mind.

Well, once again, we do so love to make one another gasp, don’t we? I’m sure my history teacher had every intention of making the class gasp, which is really is part of her job, isn’t it? At least if she’s doing her job as a teacher right. So, such an astonishing fact about the Great Wall of China being so massive it was visible from space must have seemed like pure gold. Even is she was technically making her entire class a little bit dumber, thus letting them use only 8% of their brains or so.

I honestly wish I could say the Great Wall of China was funded by Keno, because it just seems like such an amazing bit of trivia. Such a big wall, funded by such a little game?

Well, the Keno and the Great Wall of China link may be unfounded, it may be true, though hard to prove, but least we can all rest assured that mushrooms are physically the biggest living organism on Earth. This is true. I checked.

Marc Armstrong - Signature

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