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China Ancient Inventions

One important contribution of China’s glorious ancient culture to mankind is the multitude of inventions. 

Joseph Needham identifies four greatest inventions of ancient China.

The best-known four inventions of ancient China were designated by Joseph Needham (1900~1995), a sinologist renowned for his research on the history of Chinese science: papermaking, compass, gunpowder, and printing techniques, all of which are deemed of unrivaled influence on the development world civilization.

Yet these Four Greatest Inventions of Ancient China has been a mere tip of an iceberg. There have been constant arguments that some other inventions prove just as important. For instance, as some would contend, advanced metallurgic technologies, including blast furnace and cupola furnace, had been developed by the Warring States Period (403~221 BC), and iron ploughs were applied by the same period, increasing agricultural output. Oldest traces of sericulture, the production of silk, date from China’s Neolithic Period, around 3630 BC. Porcelain was another Chinese-invented item enjoying equal fame to silk in the Mediaeval Europe.

Examples are boundless. The truth is that, as one of the world’s four cradles of human civilization, the Chinese invented technologies of a much wider range, involving almost all aspects of human life: mechanics, hydraulics, metallurgy, medicines, astronomy, agriculture, engineering, music theory, craftsmanship, nautics, and warfare.


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