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How Signal Was Transmitted on Great Wall

The signal was transmitted by way of the beacon tower lining the Great Wall. The beacon towers are all built on the high point on the wall to ensure better watching out advantages for defense.

Signal on Great Wall

The construction of the beacon tower can be dated back as early as the West Zhou Dynasty, when the military intelligence was transmitted by firing on the beacon tower. There is a famous legend about the signal transmission back then. Back then, the King of West Zhou Dynasty faked a military signal just to please his wife. After he did that, the other leaders were very furious about this and they all felt being played by the king. So later, when the ethnic tribes called Quanrong attacked, those leaders did not help the king, no matter how many times the signal was sent out to them. In the end, the king was overthrown and killed and his wife was taken too. The legend may seem pretty funny, but it tells us how serious the signal transmission was back then and you just could not in any way mess up with it even if you are the king.

The beacon towers on the great wall are divided into two types, square-shaped and round-shaped. Some of the towers are built with rammed earth, and some with stone slates and bricks. The layout of the beacon towers also can be divided into different types. First one is that the beacon towers are built further to watch out for the enemies; the second one is built inside the wall and connected with passes and towns; the third one is built on the wall itself to enhance communication between different sections of the wall. There are many soldiers who are sent out here on the wall to guard the beacon towers. The soldiers are responsible for different stuff while guarding the towers, some responsible for look-out, some for restoration, others for collecting wood and wolf feces. It is said that if you want to enhance the signal in daylight, the wolf feces should be mixed. Some soldiers even lived on the wall with their families. Moreover, there are different ways to sent out the signal, including flags, lanterns, drums and canons and the like. These different ways are combined to make sure the signal is sent out very well to help the military operations.