Assignment 2 – Project Paper
World Cultures 1 – HUM 111
March 3, 2014
It is human nature to be creative and seek innovative ideas that will both facilitate and improve quality of life. In modern day, we rush to the store every time a new technology with new features is introduced. We quickly adapt to changes that help us save time and money. We praise and reward those who share their creative ideas with the world and make contributions to our lives. What comes to mind when we think about inventions? Modern day people would be quick to say the telephone, the computer, automobiles, etc. But what about the most essential inventions that we often take for granted. The Ancient Chinese were a very creative and innovative civilization that contributed so many essential inventions to our modern way of life such as paper, gunpowder, the compass, movable type-printing, silk, porcelain, iron and steel smelting, tea, mechanical clock, and even alcohol!
The Ancient Chinese left a true legacy through their inventions. Beginning with one of the most appreciated inventions in the United States, alcohol was invented during the Xia Dynasty by Yi Di and Du Kang around 2000 BC – 1600 BC. Ordinary beer with an alcoholic content of 4% to 5% was widely consumed by the ancient Chinese. Records during the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC to 1046 BC) show mention of alcohol on oracle bone inscriptions as offerings to spirits during sacrifices. By 1000 BC the Chinese were making alcoholic beverages with a stronger than 11% alcoholic content. (Liyou, 2011) This contribution has definitely had an impact on both a cultural and sociological level, for this highly desirable drink seems to accompany a vast majority of social and cultural events in modern day. On a healthier note, the Chinese also contributed the invention of tea. This beverage was first referenced around 2737 BC in a Chinese legend that states that Emperor Shen Nong drunk tea. It wasn’t until an unknown Chinese inventor created the tea shredder that tea production increased during the Tang and Song Dinasties (618 to 1279. (Liyou, 2011) Today, tea is a very popular drink that seems to be trending a lot in the United States. It is not only a delicious hot beverage with a wide variety of flavors but it has shown to have amazing effects on health.
Moving on to more essential inventions, the paper, mechanical clock, and compass continue to impact us greatly in our modern day society; for without these inventions, our modern world as we know it would not be possible. Cai Lun of the Han Dynasty, in 105 CE invented a cellulose based paper made from the suspension of softened plant fibers in water, pressed in molds, drained and dried (Sayre, 2012). Prior to this invention, language was recorded on pottery, animal bones, stones, bronzes, wooden strips and silk fabric; however, all of these methods were either too heavy or too expensive for widespread use (Liyau, 2011). Cai Lun made it impossible for us to imagine a world without written communication. Another invention we cannot live without is the clock. The worlds first clock was invented by a Buddhist monk and mathematician named Yi Xing during the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907). His clock had a wheel that made a full revolution every 24 hours with water dripping steadily on it. (Liyau, 2011) In this country I hardly think that anyone can live without the clock. The compass, on the other hand is often taken for granted. The fist compass was made of lodestone, a highly magnetic iron when struck by lightning, and was created in the fourth century B.C. (Clark, 2013) It’s earliest use was probably to harmonize environments and building in accordance with the geometric principles of Feng Shui, but today we have all benefited greatly by it’s navigational use (Liyau, 2011).
Other miscellaneous inventions of the Ancient Chinese