Human Cost

A while back I looked at a BBC News page about the Great Wall Of China. Actually it’s not a news item, it’s more a magazine piece with no bearing on the current world. You tend to see lots of those these days. Anyway back to the point. In our current civilisation we have all these marvellous cultural treasures dotted around the world:

  • Great Wall Of China
  • Egyptian Pyramids
  • Stonehenge [great?]
  • Colosseum
  • Taj Mahal
  • Chichen Itza

We, as a modern “sophisticated” tribe, look at these buildings in wonder and awe. We think they are entirely fascinating. But I suggest a change to this. Most ancient economies and quite a few modern economies and powerful nations were built on slavery. They were built on possession of humans and treating humans like shit.

These buildings and modern economies should have some sort of statistic applied to them to reflect the pain and cost of human misery that went into their creation.

The Great Wall Of China

20% of the country’s population was forced to build it. Many people died during its construction, due to the heavy work, a short time deadline and difficult conditions

The first result on the web doesn’t even mention numbers. The next result:

While the great wall was in construction over 1 million people died in the making of the wall

There seems to be a great number of results in a search that also use the “more than 1 million” people died making the Great Wall. Some sites don’t mention slaves some do. Some sites mention “population forced to  . . . .”, well that sounds like slavery to me. Add into all this the human misery associated with such a large scale project and relocation and the Wall seems an awful lot less glamorous and even fucking ugly. Perhaps it should be renamed the Great Wall Of Death.

Egyptian Pyramids

I have read through a number of pages and I can only find reference to 10,000 workers who may or may not have been slaves. Whether there were deaths or how many there were due to construction is unknown. Records weren’t kept. I suspect that industrial working practices weren’t that great so deaths would probably have been common. We should rename them The Great Pyramids Of Oppression.


This monument was honestly included as a giggle. Although impressive it’s not as impressive as the others in terms of age, size and deaths. This is another artefact for which deaths in production can’t easily be counted. These are to be renamed the Stones Of Speculation.


According to this site

An estimated 100,000 prisoners were bought back to Rome as slaves after the Jewish War. Vespasian had a limitless work force. In the building of the Colosseum the slaves undertook the manual labor such as working in the quarries at Tivoli where the travertine was quarried.

There are no references to numbers of deaths or the emotional cost and general distress to the workers. Obviously the Colosseum is now considered a magnificent monument to the Roman Empire but the human cost in creating this probably doesn’t justify the rapture we hold it in now. Let’s rename this building the Arena Of Death.

Taj Mahal

That wondrous white stone mausoleum in India was built within written historic times and there is plenty known about its construction. But there’s not a lot on the Wikipedia page about how many workers there were and how many died. There’s a single answer on Yahoo which states 22,000 people worked on the building and thousands perished. This sounds within the levels of plausibility. We could legitimately rename this one Monument To Sadness.

Chichen Itza

This city in Central America has many buildings and is impressive and a symbol that should ruin the natural superiority that the Europeans believe they have. I can’t find any details on people dying while it was in production or who built it, but apparently it was unlikely to be slaves. The city was used by the europeans to collect slaves though. This place should be known as External Factors Will Kill Your Empire.

These great endeavours of human achievement probably wouldn’t have existed if those in charge at the time had given a shit about the welfare of the workers. It’s pretty similar to these days where the little person has so much to overcome in the face of the repression of their rights.

So people fully understand the place these monuments have in our society they should all be forced to have numbers after their names showing the human cost. These numbers should be placed after everything so we cna get a true measure of what our society does.