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Ancient Chinese inventions

Compiled by Dr Juergen Rudolph


For BUS378
Singapore, 29 May, 2012
Chinese inventions the big picture
China has been a source of many inventions,
including the Four Great Inventions:
papermaking, the compass, gunpowder, and
printing (both woodblock and movable type).

The following (very short list of) inventions are
regarded as technological firsts developed in
China, and do not include technologies which the
Chinese acquired, such as the windmill from the
Middle East or the telescope from Europe.

Ancient Chinese inventions
By the Warring States Period (403221 BC), China had advanced
metallurgic technology, including the blast furnace and cupola
furnace, while the finery forge and puddling process were known by
the Han Dynasty (202 BC AD 220).

A sophisticated economic system in China gave birth to inventions
such as paper money during the Song Dynasty (9601279).

The invention of gunpowder by the 10th century led to an array of
inventions such as the fire lance, land mine, naval mine, hand
cannon, exploding cannonballs, multistage rocket, and rocket
bombs with aerodynamic wings and explosive payloads.

Ancient Chinese inventions

With the navigational aid of the 11th-century compass and ability
to steer at high sea with the 1st-century sternpost rudder,
premodern Chinese sailors sailed as far as East Africa and Egypt.

In water-powered clockworks, the premodern Chinese had used
the escapement mechanism since the 8th century and the endless
power-transmitting chain drive in the 11th century.

large mechanical puppet theaters driven by waterwheels and
carriage wheels and wine-serving automatons driven by paddle
wheel boats.

A page from the Diamond Sutra, printed in 868, "the
earliest complete survival of a dated printed book
A map of Fengshan County from the Taiwan Prefectural
Gazetteer, published in 1696 during the Qing Dynasty.


The earliest artistic depiction of a fire lance gunpowder
weapon, painting dated around 907-960.

A model of a Chinese ladle-and-bowl type compass
used for feng shui in the Han Dynasty (202 BC220 AD)
Lamian noodles, similar to the 4,000-
year-old noodles made from millet
Huizi banknote, issued in 1160
The Xuande Emperor (14251435) playing chuiwan
(Chinese golf) with his eunuchs
A 15th-century Ming Dynasty woodblock print of
the showing a game of cuju football
kites were used as rescue signals as
early as the 6
th
century
Toilet paper
Toilet paper was first mentioned in 589.
By the mid 14th century, it was written that ten
million packages of 1,000 to 10,000 sheets of
toilet paper were manufactured annually in
Zhejiang province alone.
Sources
The most famous academic source is
Needham, Joseph. Science and Civilization in
China. 7 volumes (!).
For this quick presentation, I totally relied on the
Wikipedia article.
List of Chinese inventions 2012. Wikipedia,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_inventio
ns
Discovery Channel video on ancient
Chinese inventions on youtube
Things Europe Never Invented: Ancient Chinese
Inventions several parts:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx-
x7BrgjSA&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list
=PLE904245AA7295BF8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO4-
Gu5Ov34&feature=results_video&playnext=1&lis
t=PLE904245AA7295BF8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arTQGqE6TEU&
feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PLE9042
45AA7295BF8