A few of the far-reaching Chinese inventions which changed the world
(From ‘Humans are free’ article “22 Chinese inventions which changed the world”)
Abacus The Chinese developed the abacus, a counting device, around 100 AD. By the 1300’s it was perfected and given the form it still has today
Alcohol Newly unearthed evidence suggests that we have the Chinese to thank for inventing alcohol. Analysis of 9000-year-old pottery shards found in the Henan province revealed the presence of alcohol, 1000 years before inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula, previously believed to be the first brewers.
Canals and Locks Imperial China’s construction of waterways to connect different parts of its vast territory produced some of the world’s greatest water engineering projects
Clock One of the greatest inventions of the medieval world was the mechanical clock.
Compass Recognized in Chinese as Si Nan, this early version of today’s compass came in the form of a two-part instrument, the first one a metal spoon made of magnetic loadstone, the second one a square bronze plate, which featured, in Chinese characters, the main directions of North, South, East, West, etc., symbols from the I-Ching oracle books, and the finer markings of 24 compass points with the 28 lunar mansions along the outer edge
Crossbow The use of the bow and arrow for hunting and for war dates back to the Paleolithic period in Africa, Asia, and Europe. It was widely used in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, the Americas, and Europe until the introduction of gunpowder.
However, over two thousand years ago in China, the crossbow was invented as an innovation to the basic bow and arrow that extended the use of mechanical hand weapons throughout the world.
Gunpowder and Fireworks Gunpowder is the first explosive substance mankind learnt to use and also one of the four great inventions of ancient China.
Iron and Bronze Coming much earlier than it did in other civilizations; the Bronze Age in Chinese history was especially significant. It was during this period around 3000 BC that Chinese metal workers discovered how to make bronze from copper and tin, producing an easier casting method that allowed them to make sharper cutting tools.
Kite Two thousand years before the European discovery of flying sails, the first Chinese kites were already in flight.
Movable Sails & Rudder The Chinese maritime forces, therein including the sailors as well as the shipbuilders, had no comparable equals in the ancient world. They were learned, widely traveled and technically advanced. The Cape of Good Hope, Australia, trade with Africa, a possible landing in the Americas-all of these achievements have at one time or another been attributed to these formidable men.
In addition, the ancient Chinese maritime forces were responsible for the invention of the rudder and watertight compartments for ship’s hulls. Likewise, they are credited with innovating the use of masts and the replacement of the basic square sail with the fore-and-aft rig allowing the ship to sail into the wind.
Musical Breakthroughs The Chinese court musician Ling-lun created the first reed instrument, the bamboo pipe, sometime between 3000 and 2501 B.C. By 2500 B.C., Chinese music grew more complex, employing a five-note scale.
In subsequent dynasties, the development of Chinese music was strongly influenced by foreign music, especially Central Asia..
Paper, Printing and Publishing In almost every respect, the Chinese were at the forefront of developing the printed word. In 105 A.D., Ts’ai Lun invented the process for manufacturing paper, introducing the first use in China.
Paper Money The Chinese invented paper money in the 9th century AD. Its original name was flying money because it was so light it could blow out of one’s hand. As exchange certificates used by merchants, paper money was quickly adopted by the government for forwarding tax payments.
Porcelain The invention of porcelain was China’s great contribution to the world civilization.