19. Wall to Wall

Tony Wilmott

Affiliation: Historic England, United Kingdom

Session Abstract: Hadrian’s Wall and the Great Wall of China are the subject of a partnership developed between Historic England and the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage (CACH) under the title ‘Wall to Wall’. This is designed to share information and explore possibilities in the research, conservation and interpretation of the two World Heritage Sites. Two high level seminars have now taken place, the first in 2018 in Newcastle, and the second in Jinshanling, China in 2019. Among those attending these seminars have been Limes Congress regulars, notably David Breeze and Rob Collins. The proceedings of the first seminar have been published, papers for the second are currently being assembled for publication.

Time Presenter (s) Presentation
09.00 David Brough No title
09.20 Yan Li Comparison of the Great Wall of China and the Frontiers of Imperial Rome
09.40 Wenyan Liu Overview of the Archaeological Survey of the Great Wall
10.00 Chunlei Yu Archaeology of the Great Wall of Ming Dynasty: Qingping Fort Site


10.50 Jianxin Wang The Centenary of Chinese Archaeology
11.10 Wenping Zhang Large granary found along the Great Wall of the Western Han Dynasty in Hetao area
11.30 Jianwei Zhang An Innovative Digitalisation Approach to the Intervention Process Management in the Great Wall Conservation and Maintenance Project
11.50 Fei Cheng Fragility assessment of the natural disasters of the Great Wall in Ningxia, China


David Brough, Independent Heritage Consultant

WtoW is a collaboration initiative between heritage managers and academics from Hadrian’s Wall and their counterparts from the Great Wall of China. Its purpose is to identify and pursue opportunities for the sharing and exchange of expertise and experience, and for working together to improve understanding, conservation and presentation of the two monuments. In March 2018 the first Wall to Wall Seminar, held in Newcastle, brought together colleagues from the two World Heritage Sites for the first time; this was followed by a return Seminar at Jinshanling, Hebei Province in November 2019. Representatives of Hadrian’s Wall have emphasised to Chinese colleagues the international dimensions of its management, as part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire WHS, and of our understanding of the monument through ongoing archaeological research by colleagues across the former territories of the Roman Empire. Thus in collaborating with Hadrian’s Wall they are automatically linked into a far wider community of heritage managers and academics across many countries. This presentation will introduce Limes colleagues to the WtoW initiative and highlight the principal thematic areas identified for project based collaborations between the two WHSs. Potential areas for specifically archaeological collaboration will be discussed in the subsequent presentations of the WtoW session provided by Chinese colleagues. It is hoped that the session will encourage Limes colleagues to explore how they might contribute to and benefit from the initiative as it goes forward. Recognising that many colleagues will be unfamiliar with the Great Wall, the presentation begins with an overview of the Great Wall describing: its different constituent sections built across 15 provincial-level administrative areas of China and constructed during different dynasties over c.2,000 years, in a range of different geographical environments; the different materials used in its construction; and the variety of military architectural features each contain.

Comparison of the Great Wall of China and the Frontiers of Imperial Rome
Yan Li, Yujie Zhai, Xiaoyue Shang, Zhe Li, Architecure School, Tianjin University

The Han, Jin and Ming Great Walls are known as the Three Great Walls. These three empires established the Great Wall defence system to ensure the security of the border. The defence system includes the border wall and its defence facilities, military camp system, postal system, and beacon signalling system, early warning system, border trade facilities, and Garrison Reclamation. The Frontiers of Imperial Rome and the Han Great Wall were in the same period. There are many similarities in the defence system of the Great Wall. Although the Jin and Ming Great Walls are later than the Han Great Wall they retained many characteristics of its system, and their remains are still clearly visible. Based on a field survey of the Great Wall of China and the Frontiers of Imperial Rome in England and Germany and through the comparison of a large number of examples, this paper analyzes similarities and differences between the two in four aspects: the border wall and its defence facilities; the levels and forms of their forts; the line of sight relationships of their early warning and signalling systems, and the structure of their postal systems. The main conclusions of the article: 1. The wall fortifications of the Han and Jin Great Walls and the Frontiers of Imperial Rome are all accompanied by ditches, and all have wall forts built along the wall, while the Ming Great Wall has fewer ditches and forts built along the wall itself; 2. The forts of China and the West are divided into four levels: the headquarters fort, the garrison forts, the front line fort, and the guard fort, and the scale of each level of these forts is regular; 3. The remains of the Firewood Pile in the beacon tower of the Great Wall of China show that the Han Great Wall system were continued into the Ming Great Wall system; 4. The postal system of the Ming Great Wall is divided into three levels: courier station, delivery station, and express delivery shop, which is more complex than those of the Han Great Wall and the Frontiers of Imperial Rome.

Overview of the Archaeological Survey of the Great Wall
Wenyan Liu, Chinese Academy of Culture Heritage

The Great Wall is the largest cultural heritage monument in China, dating back over 2,000 years and stretching over thousands of kilometers across several different environments and terrains. Since the 1980s, local cultural heritage departments have conducted a variety of surveys on the monument. This article compares the methods and results of the survey of the GW at different stages, and focuses on the National Great Wall Resource Survey (GWRS) organized by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage in 2005. It explains how the NGWRS integrated the results of previous surveys, and resolved the issues of inconsistency and lack of standardisation of previous archaeological surveys. From2005 to 2010, following a series of work standards concerning survey scope, objectives, content, method, classification and terminology etc., the GWRS managing a huge workload and massive workforce, successfully conducted field surveys of each and every facility and related site of the Great Wall with detailed measuring and data recording. The most prominent feature of this survey is cross-professional cooperation. The survey team was made up of cultural heritage and surveying and mapping professionals. The cultural heritage professionals were responsible for preliminary study and field archaeological works including identification, record keeping, measuring, data sorting and filing. The surveying and mapping professionals were responsible for providing basic geographical information and technical support. It used the method of combining archeology and surveying and mapping technology, inter-disciplinary and inter-professional cooperation, and systematically applying spatial information technology to obtain comprehensive, complete, detailed and standardized Great Wall resource data.

Archaeology of the Great Wall of Ming Dynasty: Qingping Fort Site
Chunlei Yu, Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology

Qingping Fort is a fort in the Great Wall System of the Yansui-Zhen region, one of the nine border defence regions of the northern border of the Ming Dynasty. We have made a detailed archaeological investigation on this fort site and its surrounding environment. Qingping Fort site is located in Jingbian County, Yulin City, Shaanxi Province. This area is an east-west geographical depression, which made it a natural thoroughfare for east-west traffic. Qingping Fort was built to guard this passage. The surrounding area is not suitable for agricultural production due to the sand in Mu Us Desert pushes further eastward including this area by the thoroughfare. As a garrison along the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty, Qingping Fort also played a role in peacetime, that is, as a trading place between Mongolia and the Ming Dynasty. There was not only official trade, but also folk trade, and even smuggling. Although Qingping Fort was built for military purposes, there was not much military conflict in this area. Most of the time it was peaceful. The Ming Dynasty and Mongolia had peaceful exchanges and cultural integration in this region. This archaeological excavation reveals a remnant of Town’s God Temple of the Ming Dynasty, as well as relics of other military and civilian life in the fort. This article focuses on the main concerns of the Great Wall archaeology and interpretating this batch of archaeological data. Yu Chunlei’s attendance at the Congress will be subject to official authorisation for him to do so by the National Cultural Heritage Administration. Should he not subsequently receive this approval, then his presentation will be presented by one of his colleagues.

The Centenary of Chinese Archaeology
Jianxin Wang, North West University, Xi’an

This paper traces the development of archaeology in China over the last 100 years. The paper divides this into four stages. The Beginning of Chinese Archaeology (1921~1949), represented by three principal areas of investigation: the discovery of the Yangshao and Longshan Cultures; the excavation of Zhoukoudian in Beijing; and the excavation of Yinxu at Anyang. From 1949~1978, along with the establishment of archaeology majors in some Chinese universities, and the discovery and study of the Banpo and Miaodigou sites, Erligang in Zhengzhou and Erlitou in Luoyang, and a series of ancient Chinese Cities and Tombs, the development of Chinese archaeology entered a significant period of its development. After this period, Chinese archaeology then entered a new stage of development known as the “Opening up of Chinese Archaeology”. Between 1978 and 1999, traditional archaeology practices and modern archaeological ideas and approaches combined together in debates within the Chinese archaeological community on the origin of Chinese civilization, and in response to the rapid construction and development of Chinese cities which produced many major archaeological discoveries. At this time, Chinese archaeologists also focused on the research and reappraisal of ancient Chinese History. The paper finally summarises the principal characteristics of Chinese archaeology in the 21st century: its increasing application of modern scientific technologies; its emphasis on the popularisation of archaeology; and its embracing of closer engagement and collaboration with the international archaeological research community. The paper concludes with a summary of the principal themes of archaeological research endeavors in China over recent years, then identifies some current and emerging new themes of research interest being pursued by today’s archaeological scholars. These themes are illustrated with examples of recent and ongoing research projects across the legacy left by several millennia of China’s vast and rich history.

Large granary found along the Great Wall of the Western Han Dynasty in Hetao area
Wenping Zhang, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute

Shaliangzi Ancient City, which is located in the northwest of Shaliangzi village, Yuquan District, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, was one of the closest border towns to the Great Wall set up by the Western Han Dynasty on the northern frontier. Since 2019, The Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology of Inner Mongolia and Sun Yat-sen University have jointly excavated the site and revealed a large granary building base, which is the first such discovery along the northern area of the Great Wall, not only filling a gap in the study of the border cities in Han Dynasty, but also marking a significant step forward in archaeology of the Great Wall. The granary building base site is located in the middle of the town and is in rectangular shape. Its remains are 16-rooms wide and 2-rooms deep, with thick external walls around and a double-eave sloped roof, is a single rammed earth building of a large size and a high specification. On the rammed-earth platform, 16 north-south grooves for ventilation were distributed uniformly, with pilasters and pillars on the east and west walls and floor. The artifacts include a large number of large-sized tiles from architectural structures, as well as a pottery pot with a symmetrical stamp “Wan Dan (10,000 dan of grain)” on the bottom and fragements of other ceramic measures. In addition, the flotation from groove soil samples have grain seeds. The building was used in the middle and late Western Han Dynasty,and, after several repairs, was finally destroyed by a fire.

An Innovative Digitalisation Approach to the Intervention Process Management in the Great Wall Conservation and Maintenance Project
Jianwei Zhang, School of Archaeology and Museology, Peking University

Based on the internal connection of three significant concepts regarding heritage sites, ‘current condition’, ‘original condition’, and ‘intervention’, the article proposes a digital approach to the intervention process management during the Great Wall’s conservation. The approach advocates using digital technology for the continued model- and image-based data collection and tracking of the section undergoing conservation. The data forms a collection of digital datasets, named the ‘source scene’. Using the datasets, the effects of the conservation process can be scientifically assessed. This approach is applied in the conservation project of the Jiankou and Xifengkou sections of the Great Wall. The application in practice has demonstrated that the ‘source scene’ concept combined with digitalisation techniques can help manage the intervention processes for the Great Wall’s conservation and maintenance. The method can also be an innovative approach to various cultural heritage conservation projects’ management and operational models, as well as an opportunity for public education.

Fragility assessment of the natural disasters of the Great Wall in Ningxia, China
Fei Cheng, Institution of Architecture and Public Arts, Chinese National Academy of Arts, Dong Xiao, Beijing Great Wall Culture Research Institute, Beijing, University of Civil Engineering and Architecture

The length of the Great Wall in Ningxia is about 1500 kilometers and is known as the “the Great Wall Museum of China”. Ningxia has been a fortress contested by the farming people and the nomadic people since ancient times. It has almost always been in the state of taking over the war. The Great Wall was built in Ningxia in the Warring States, Qin, Han, Sui, Jin, Ming dynasties. There are the complex and diverse of the topography, complete geomorphic types such as mountains, plains, plateaus and basins in Ningxia. The Great Wall shows the various crafts and forms, such as earth tamped, adobe laid, stones masonry and so on, according to the local natural earth rock and other materials and their masonry technology. However, each of them has different weaknesses. For example, the tamped earth is not strong and tight enough to resist the scouring of rainstorm, adobe and stones are easy to deform and collapse due to their small volume, poor integrity of base masonry and poor pull engagement with the internal wall core. Ningxia is a semi-arid climate region in the middle temperate zone. Meteorological disasters occur from time to times, such as drought, rainstorm, gale, dust storm, cold wave, hail, lightning, fog, frost, continuous cloudy rain and ice cream. It has also been affected by earthquakes for many times, resulting in the formation of vertical fractures in the tamped earth section and horizontal fractures in the stone masonry section of the old North Great Wall. Through research on the natural disasters occurred in Ningxia, the vulnerability evaluation of the Great Wall is systematically analyzed, which can provide a reference for the conservation of the Great Wall.