1820 China with prefecture boundaries from the China Historical GIS
Project (2017)

The Military Defense System of the Great Wall in Ming Dynasty


The military settlements along the Ming Dynasty Great Wall are a series of 1,100-odd garrisons. In addition, there are several thousand posts, beacon towers, and relay systems. The Great Wall itself, garrisons, posts, beacon towers, and the relay system constitute the military defense system of the Ming Dynasty. The Great Wall defense system has nine strategic towns, under which the garrisons have five levels: Zhen, Lu, Wei, Suo and Bao city. My job is to study the relations between different levels and spatial distribution of the military settlements; the size and troop population of cities at different levels; the spatial distribution of relay routes; and their speed and direction, by means of restoration and simulation and by means of GIS spatial analysis and 3D point cloud data.

We have built a preliminary GIS database and completed entering and sorting out attribute data of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall and the military settlements. The attribute data include 30 items, such as geographic information (latitude and longitude coordinates), construction history (year of construction and renovation), settlement pattern (shape, side length, circumference), wall pattern (material, height, width, thickness, number of gates and barbican), the internal space (street, turret and government office), land cultivation and trade (Tunbian, Mashi and Fushang), folk culture and historical events.


Li, Y., Zhang, Y., & Xie, D. (2018).Ming chang cheng jiu bian zhong zhen fang yu ti xi yu jun shi ju luo. 明长城九边重镇军事聚落与防御体系研究. Beijing: Zhongguo jian zhu gong ye chu ban she.

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Li, Y., Zhang, Y., & Li, Z. (2018). 明长城防御体系与军事聚落研究. Jian zhu xue bao: yue kan = Architectural journal. 建筑学报,596(5), 69-75.

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Li, Y., Zhang, Y., & Li, Z. (2018). 明长城防御体系整体性保护策略. Zhong guo wen hua yi chan = China Cultural Heritage. 中国文化遗产,85(3), 48-54.

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