The Migration of the Jing:
an investigation into the movement of China's capital, its political boudaries and its population

Set A Module 2: The Migration of the Jing
by Ryan Bradeen, 2002
designed for students of world history, geography and Asian studies at the secondary level and beyond.
Estimated project time: 5 days

In this activity you will examine geographic and historic data concerning the movement or migration of China's capital throughout China's major dynasties, China's changing political boundaries and its shifting and expanding population patterns. You will analyze these three data sources and hypothesize a relationship between them. This data will help you identify patterns in China’s history.

Note: "Jing" is the character for capital as in Beijing (North Capital) and Nanjing (South Capital)

This assignment has the following objectives:

  • to solidify your command of China’s geography;
  • to introduce China’s dynastic progression;
  • to communicate the changing nature of China’s polity and its population;
  • to develop your analytical skills and your use of historic data;
  • to develop your skills of organizing information in an interactive map format.

The Data:
Your data for this assignment consists of two map sets; maps of political boundaries (including capital location) and population distribution maps. Each map set has a series of maps from China's major historic dynasties. In addition, you will use a chronology of Chinese dynasties, other maps of China you collect from your library, such as physical maps and Chinese history texts such as the essay in A Geography of China, John King Fairbank's China: a New History and Jacques Gernet's A History of Chinese Civilization. All of the data is available on the datapage.

In the process of analyzing the maps and other data, consider the following questions:

  • What reasons are there for locating a capital in a particular place?
  • Who makes decisions about capital location?
  • Why do populations shift?
  • How does physical geography connect and divide people?
  • What is required to exert control over a population?
  • What circumstances beyond China’s borders might have influenced its capital location?

The Task:
an illustrated essay/map set

Based upon your analysis of the map data, you will produce your own map set which includes (at minimum) a paper base map and four transparent overlays maps. This map set will be, in essence, an illustrated essay. Instead of relying entirely upon writing, in this assignment you will combine words and map information to communicate your answer to a complicated question;

"What is the relationship between capital location,
political boundaries and population distribution?"

Just as in a normal essay, in the first page of your document you should present your thesis paragraph which explains the relationship, as you see it. Each of the maps in the map set should display relevant map data and text you have created which supports your thesis.

Both the map information and the text should be clear and concise. Students have, in the past, used many different strategies for organizing and presenting their information. You should be inventive and bold. But be sure to provide clear instructions to the viewer about how to use your map set. The most important guideline to your creativity is to be an effective communicator. Also, include citiations to any historical texts which you use in your essay, footnoting in the same way that you would in a paper. Finally, the map set should end with a concluding paragraph just like an essay.

!!! Remember this is an essay with a thesis, supporting information and a conclusion. The only difference is that in this essay the supporting information is presented in map form.

  • develop a clear thesis explaining the relationship between the location of capitals, political boundaries and population patterns;
  • information presented should allow the user of the map set to clearly support your thesis;
  • each map of the map set should display both visual and textual information in a neat, concise and user-friendly way;
  • include page references to historical data used from Fairbank, Gernet or other historical texts, at least one reference per page;
  • include paragraph length text captions on each page clearly explaining how the data displayed connects to you thesis;
  • provide clear date, dynasty and geographic references on each map.

chronology of Chinese dynasties
transparency markers
colored pencils
map set, population
map set, political
blank maps
Fairbank, China: a New History
Gernet, A History of Chinese Civilization
(essay) A Geography of China
atlases and maps of China

Proficiency Levels:

  • Advanced: 91 -100 points
  • Proficient: 90 - 80 points
  • Acceptable: 79 -70 points
  • Unacceptable: 69 - 0 points

Evaluation (100 points):

(20 points)The Wow Factor
The document is carefully and thoughtfully completed; it is creative, cool, well-constructed, user-friendly and effective at conveying your ideas;

(20 points)Nuts and Bolts
The document meets minimum requirements for number of maps, number of references and date, dynasty and geographic references;

(20 points)The National Geographic Award
The maps are effective communicators; text captions on each map are well-written, of appropriate length and an effective part of the map;

(20 points) • The Thesis Answers the Question
The document has a clearly stated thesis. (The emphasis is not on your thesis being correct, but rather that it is well-supported by the map data you chose to use.);

(20 points) • Make the Case
Supporting evidence is effectively chosen and presented to directly support your thesis. Evidence is thorough and detailed, not skimpy.

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