Essay on Ancient Chinese Contributions

Submitted By R-Flint
Words: 957
Pages: 4

Ancient Chinese Contributions
Kasuwa Smith
James Fleming

The world is forever in debt to China for its innovation and contributions. Ancient Chinese inventions were extremely advanced and are still in use today. They have contributed to our world civilization’s achievements in the fields of agriculture, shipping, astronomy, printing, oil, martial arts, ammunition, and mathematic. Ancient Chinese inventions such as gunpowder, silk, paper, printing, tea, wheel barrow, iron plows, deep drilling, porcelain, toilet paper and the compass were and still are important pieces of Chinese and global life. These inventions were major blocks in the building of the world that we know today. The four main innovations that I consider essential in our lives are printing, gunpowder, compass, and paper. The method of printing and woodblock, or movable, printing are considered ancient Chinese inventions. This ancient Chinese invention was seen before the first dated book in 868 (Lad). Printing books was time consuming, as the blackline method used required a new block to be carved for each page. Movable type in printing was invented during the Song Dynasty. Movable Chinese characters were carved from wood, which could be arranged as needed and even reused. Later versions used clay, but these broke easily. During the Ming Dynasty, the wooden movable type was refined and books were printed using the two color printing process. After the development of paper, printing was one of the most important inventions as it led to expansion in spreading stories, news, and knowledge. Another innovation that changed the world was gunpowder. Gunpowder is believed to be development as by product of trying to make an immortality elixir. Taoist alchemists experimenting with sulfur and potassium nitrate discovered it could be used as an igniter or explosive (Temple, 1986). Later in Chinese history, gunpowder was used in fireworks, signal flares, and crude hand grenades. The use of gunpowder in rifles and rockets changed the way wars were fought; it gave the Chinese an advantage in the future wars and battles. Gunpowder is still in use today in ammunition and fireworks around the world. The inventing of the compass still has far reaching effects in current times. The Chinese may not have invented in the first compass, however, they discovered the first magnetic compass. Shen Kuo of the Song Dynasty was the first to describe both magnetic declination and the magnetic needle compass in his writing. The first mention of using it for navigation at sea was recorded in 1119 (Bowman, 2000). The invention of the compass led to the discovery of new countries, therefore opening new opportunities for trade and commerce. In today’s society, the development of the compass brought forth the invention of Global Positioning System (GPS). GPS is now part of everyday life and everyone benefits from its in use for navigation in all forms of travel. The most important invention of Chinese culture is paper. The invention of the paper was a great contribution to both the Chinese and the world civilization. According to Joseph Needham, it was in the year 105 A.D during the Han Dynasty, that Cai Lun first reported the invention of the paper (Needham, 1985). Paper made of hemp had been used by the Han for over 200 years, but Cai Lun improved both the technique and quality of the paper by using verity of materials such as, tree bark, hemp and rags. The basic principles of papermaking invented by Cai Lun are still in use today. Before the invention of paper, characters were written on animal bones, turtlebacks, bamboo, or stone. The storage of great ideas and paintings were a difficult task. Paper made it easy to express thoughts in writing and educating the people (Bellis, 2011). It has promoted and quickened the steps of human civilization and development. This invention allowed us to preserve history, keep records, create art…