Secrets of the Forbidden City

How has China’s magnificent Forbidden City withstood centuries of earthquakes? Airing October 18, 2017 at 9 pm on PBS Aired October 18, 2017 on PBS

Program Description

The Forbidden City is the world’s biggest and most extravagant palace complex ever built. For five centuries, it was the power center of imperial China and survived wars, revolution, fires, and earthquakes. How did the Ming Emperor’s workforce construct its sprawling array of nearly 1,000 buildings and dozens of temples in a little over a decade? How were stupendous 250-ton marble blocks moved across many miles to reach the site? And how did fantastically intricate woodwork, all fastened without nails or glue, enable the palaces to survive hundreds of earthquakes, including recent ones that obliterated nearby modern structures? To find answers, NOVA joins a team of master craftsmen who build a scale model of a typical palace in a seismic lab, then subject it to simulated earthquakes to shake out the secrets of how the Forbidden City has withstood centuries of violent tremors. 

Broadcast Credits

PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY
Ian Bremner
EDITED BY
Dominic Hutton
Ian Merrylees
Tom Parker
CAMERA
David Tong
Tony Mewse
ANIMATION
Mark Peters
Adam Vrijland
NARRATED BY
Eric Meyers
ASSISTANT PRODUCERS
Alex Mattholie
Han Zhang
PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Katie King
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Qiao Xin
Brian Davies
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Xu WanLee
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Steve Crook
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SPECIAL THANKS
The Palace Museum, Beijing
Beijing Ancient Architecture Museum
Ma Bingjian
Jin Hongkui
---
Dr. Wang Jian
Prof. Jiang Li
Zhang Kegui
Nanjing Jinling Gold Foil Ltd.
Dr. Liu Peng
University Of Sheffield
Li Ying
Xia Yu
Li Zhenguang
Wen-Shao Chang
——
FOR CICC
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Wang Yuanyuan
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Kong Weina
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A NOVA Production by Lion Television for NOVA/WGBH Boston in association with Channel 4, ARTE France and China Intercontinental Communication Center

© 2016 Lion Television Limited

All rights reserved

Additional Material © 2017 WGBH Educational Foundation

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This program was produced by WGBH, which is solely responsible for its content.

Original funding for this program was provided by Draper, 23andMe, the David H. Koch Fund for Science and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

IMAGE:

Image credit (Forbidden City, China)
© zhaojiankang/iStock Photo

Participants

Dina D'ayala
University College London
Jonathan Dugdale
University of Birmingham
Rob Dwyer-Joyce
University of Sheffield
Jim Griffiths
Nottingham University
Zhang Guangwei
Architect
Olivia Manfredi
University of Sheffield
Zhou Qian
Palace Museum Seismologist
David Robinson
Colgate University
Richard Wiborg
Woodworker
Robin D. S. Yates
McGill University
An Yin
University of California, Los Angeles
Lei Yong
Palace Museum Conservator
Zhao Zhongnan
Palace Museum Historian

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