Ancient Chinese Inventions

Essay by geekA-, April 2004

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A common stereotype is that the Chinese traditionally lack scientific and technological ability, although, somehow, they stumbled upon papermaking, printing, gunpowder, and the mariner's compass. Modern Chinese, themselves, sometimes are surprised to realize that modern agriculture, shipping, astronomical observatories, decimal mathematics, paper money, umbrellas, wheelbarrows, multi-stage rockets, brandy and whiskey, the game of chess, and much more, all came from China. The sciences of astronomy, physics, chemistry, meteorology, seismology, technology, engineering, and mathematics can trace their early origins to China. From 600 AD until 1500 AD, China was the world's most technologically Advanced society. Four of these revolutionary Chinese technologies: printing, papermaking, gunpowder, and the magnetic compass. Printing and papermaking impacted record keeping and learning for Chinese society. The invention of gunpowder gave the Chinese a distinct advantage over their enemies, changing the nature of warfare. The compass enabled trade and exploration in whole new ways. Growing crops in rows may seem to you to be obvious and necessary process.

But they were not practiced in western world until the eighteenth century. The Chinese were doing this at least by the sixth century BC, which are about 2200 years in advance of the West in one of the most sensible aspects of agriculture