The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall
Fabio Achilli—Flickr
March 4, 2014 11:45 AM EST

Graffiti is an ancient practice—just check out all the scandalous wall scratches in Pompeii. But adding new graffiti to ancient objects is generally frowned upon, at least until now. The Chinese government is turning a section of the Great Wall of China into a graffiti playground, allowing visitors to leave their marks in the millennia-old structure.

The graffiti section will organized at Mutianyu, a relatively uncrowded section of the Great Wall outside of central Beijing. Archaeologists who are suddenly terrified at the prospect of thousands of tourists carving up a world heritage site, worry not—much of Mutianyu is actually a reconstructed version of the Great Wall rather than the real thing.

Where ancient sections of the wall are sand-colored and worn, Mutianyu is dark grey, clean-cut, and solid. It’s also far easier to walk on. Though the sprawling construction is still impressive, it’s definitely not authentic, and it might even be improved by a little touch of humanity.

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