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How The Forbidden City Survived 200 Earthquakes

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The Forbidden City, which is the Chinese imperial palace that started way back from the Ming Dynasty, is one of the most important ancient structures in the world. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. For almost 500 years, The Forbidden City was home to Chinese emperors and their households and was the political center of the country.

Renovations are in progress in preserving the Forbidden City, but considering how OLD the site is, it’s indeed beyond remarkable how the structures within survived the natural elements, most especially earthquakes.

In its 600 years of existence, The Forbidden City has survived 200 devastating earthquakes, including what is considered the deadliest of the 20th century.

Source: Moheet.com

Naturally, people like us in the modern world are curious as to what the Chinese did to make this possible.

What kind of architectural sorcery did the Chinese use to create an earthquake-proof structure?

This video shows us how modern-day carpenters and engineers figured out the secret to the Forbidden City’s stability. Using traditional carpentry techniques, specialist carpenters they built a replica of the palace that is a fifth of the original size. The engineers built the structure on a shake table to simulate earthquake.

They took note of the brackets called dougong, which was used to support the beams and columns of the palace. These hold the key to the stability of the building and instrumental in holding the intricate parts of the structure.

After the replica was finished, they tested the strength of the structure by subjecting it to a series of simulated quakes. They started on a 9.0 magnitude scale, then beyond 9.5, which is the largest recorded quake in history. To give you an idea how monstrous that magnitude is, its energy is equivalent to the effect of 2 billion tonnes of TNT.

After much shaking, the structure was still standing at magnitude 10.1. The carpenters and engineers involved in the project could only marvel at the proof of the genius of traditional Chinese architecture.

Watch the video to see the amazing results:

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