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.