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10 Great Ancient Chinese Inventions

It is well known that China has an ancient and glorious history, from the feudal periods ending in 222 BC through the three Imperial and Intermediate Eras, up to the Modern era – over 4000 years of dynastic reigns. It may also be well known that China is the source of many wonderful and useful inventions from spaghetti to gunpowder. This list, however, will take a slightly different slant of the topic: Chinese inventions and developments that were not known to or adopted by the Western (European) world for many decades and sometimes centuries after they were common place in China. Some you may be familiar with, others perhaps less so.

As this is not a ‘top 10’ type list, the entries are in a (mostly) chronological order of when they were invented or developed. Please note that these are inventions and technological developments and not discoveries about the natural world – though it is also true that in many cases the Chinese scientists far preceded ‘The West’ in discoveries as well (e.g. William Harvey is credited with discovering the circulation of blood in 1628. It was described in Chinese documents in the 2nd Century BC).

1

Row Planting
Feudal Period – 6 Century BC

1-1

The Chinese started planting crops in rows sometime in the 6th century BC. This technique allows the crops to grow faster and stronger. It facilitates more efficient planting, watering, weeding and harvesting. There is also documentation that they realized that as the wind travels over rows of plants there is less damage. This obvious development was not instituted in the western world for another 2200 years. Master Lu wrote in the “Spring and Autumn Annals”: ‘If the crops are grown in rows they will mature rapidly because they will not interfere with each other’s growth. The horizontal rows must be well drawn, the vertical rows made with skill, for if the lines are straight the wind will pass gently through.’ This text was compiled around 240 BC.


2

Compass
Feudal period – 4th Cent BC

2

The Chinese developed a lodestone compass to indicate direction sometime in the 4th century BC. These compasses were south pointing and were primarily used on land as divination tools and direct finders. Written in the 4th Century BC, in the Book of the Devil Valley Master it is written: “lodestone makes iron come or it attracts it”. The spoons were made from lodestone, while the plates were of bronze. Thermo-remanence needles were being produced for mariners by the year 1040, with common use recorded by 1119. Thermo-remanence technology, still in use today, was ‘discovered’ by William Gilbert in about 1600.

3

The Seed Drill
Han Dynasty: circa 202 BC – 220 AD

3

The Seed Drill is used to plant seeds into the soil at a uniform depth and covers it. Without this tool seeds are tossed by hand over the ground resulting in waste and inefficient, uneven growth. Chinese farmers were using seed drills as early as the 2nd Century BC. The first known European instance was a patent issued to Camillo Torello in 1566, but was not adopted by Europeans into general use until the mid 1800’s.


4

Iron Plows
Han Dynasty: circa 202 BC – 220 AD

Plowfinished.Jpg

One of the major developments of the ancient Chinese agriculture was the use of the iron moldboard plows. Though probably first developed in the 4th century BC and promoted by the central government, they were popular and common by the Han Dynasty. (So I am using the more conservative date). A major invention was the adjustable strut which, by altering the distance of the blade and the beam, could precisely set the depth of the plow. This technology was not instituted into England and Holland until the 17th century, sparking an abundance of food which some experts say was a necessary prerequisite for the industrial revolution.

5

Deep Drilling
Han Dynasty: circa 202 BC – 220 AD

5

By the first century BC the Chinese had developed the technology for deep drilling boreholes. Some of these reached depths of 4800 feet (about 1.5 km). They used technology that would be easily recognizable to a modern engineer and lay person alike. Derricks would rise as much as 180 feet above the borehole. They stacked rocks with center holes (tube or doughnut shaped) from the surface to the deep stone layer as a guide for their drills (similar to today’s guide tubes). With hemp ropes and bamboo cables reaching deep into the ground, they employed cast iron drills to reach the natural gas they used as a fuel to evaporate water from brine to produce salt. The natural gas was carried via bamboo pipes to where it was needed. There is also some evidence that the gas was used for light. While I could not find exactly when deep drilling was first used by the Europeans, I did not find any evidence prior to the early industrial revolution (mid 18th century). In the United States, the first recorded deep drill was in West Virginia in the 1820s.

6

Ship’s Rudder
Han Dynasty: circa 202 BC – 220 AD

6

Chinese naval developments occurred far earlier than similar western technology. The first recorded use of rudder technology in the West was in 1180. Chinese pottery models of sophisticated slung axial rudders (enabling the rudder to be lifted in shallow waters) dating from the 1st century have been found. Early rudder technology (c 100 AD) also included the easier to use balanced rudder (where part of the blade was in front of the steering post), first adopted by England in 1843 – some 1700 years later. In another naval development, fenestrated rudders were common on Chinese ships by the 13th century which were not introduced to the west until 1901. Fenestration is the adding of holes to the rudder where it does not affect the steering, yet make the rudder easy to turn. This innovation finally enabled European torpedo boats to use their rudders while traveling at high speed (about 30 knots).

7

Harness for Horses
Age of Division; circa 220 – 581 AD

Picture 4-16

Throat harnesses have been used throughout the world to harness horses to carts and sleds. These harnesses press back on the neck of the horse thus limiting the full strength of the animal. In the late feudal period (4th Century BC) there is pictorial evidence (from the Chinese state of Chu) of a horse with a wooden chest yoke. By the late Han Dynasty the yoke was made from softer straps and was used throughout the country. By the 5Th century, the horse collar (pictured above), which allows the horse to push with its shoulders, was developed. This critical invention was introduced into Europe approximately by 970 and became widespread within 200 years. Because of the greater speed of horses over oxen, as well as greater endurance, agricultural output throughout Europe increased significantly.


8

Porcelain
Sui Dynasty: 581 – 618 AD

Picture 3-24

Porcelain is a very specific kind of ceramic produced by the extreme temperatures of a kiln. The materials fuse and form a glass and mineral compound known for its strength, translucence and beauty. Invented during the Sui Dynasty (but possibly earlier) and perfected during the Tang Dynasty (618-906), most notably by Tao-Yue (c. 608 – c. 676), Chinese porcelain was highly prized throughout the world. The porcelain of Tao-Yue used a ‘white clay’ that was found on the edge of the Yangtze River, where he lived. By the time of the Sung Dynasty (960-1279) the art of porcelain had reached its peak. In 1708 the German Physicist Tschirnhausen invented European porcelain, thus ending the Chinese monopoly. The picture above is a teabowl with black glaze and leaf pattern from the Southern Sung Dynasty (1127-1279).

9

Toilet Paper
Sui Dynasty: 581 – 618 AD

9

As noted above, paper was an early invention of China. One of the first recorded accounts of using hygienic paper was during the Sui Dynasty in 589. In 851 an Arab traveler reported (with some amazement) that the Chinese used paper in place of water to cleanse themselves. By the late 1300’s, approximately 720,000 sheets per year was produced in packages of 1,000 to 10,000 sheets. In colonial times in America (late 1700’s) it was still common to use corn-cobs or leaves. Commercial toilet paper was not introduced until the 1857 and at least one early advertiser noted that their product was ‘splinter free’ – something quite far from today’s ‘ultra-soft’. One rather odd piece of trivia I picked up during my research is that the Romans used a sponge tied to the end of a stick – which may have been the origin of the expression “to grab the wrong end of the stick”.

10

Printing – movable type
Song Dynasty: 960 – 1279 AD

Picture 2-60

That paper was invented by the Chinese is well known (by Cai Lun c 50-121 AD), and it is one of the great Chinese inventions. The recipe for this paper still exists and can be followed by today’s artisans. In 868 the first printed book, using full page woodcuts, was produced. About 100 years later the innovations of Bi Sheng, pictured above, (990-1051) were described. Using clay fired characters he made re-usable type and developed typesetting techniques. Though used successfully to produce books, his technology was not perfected until 1298. By contrast, Gutenberg’s bibles – the first European book printed with movable type – were printed in the 1450’s. Interestingly, the Chinese did not start using metal type until the 1490’s.

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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  • lo

    jfrater-

    i've been getting "Safari can’t open the page “https://listverse.com/” because the server unexpectedly dropped the connection, which sometimes occurs when the server is busy. You might be able to open the page later." errors that have prevented me from viewing the site for about 24 hours (except for once, briefly, and right now).

    was it just me, or has an increase in traffic/something been plaguing other people?

    i was sad, i'm a bit of a LV addict ;) (but you knew that last bit.)

    • angel

      O_O all of this sucks

      • NoName-691

        You Suck -_- You’d Probably still be wiping your ass with your hand or on rocks or leaves, anything to be specific if the chinese didn’t INVENT the TOILET PAPER.

  • Peejee

    yesterday s and todays list have taught me a lot – very interesting, great research !

    • bob marley

      forreals

  • Zack

    i don’t want to sound stupid… but i didn’t know any of these

  • Jack Deth

    A very interesting list, enjoyed it, thank you.

  • lo

    also, how wonderful to see an eastern list!

    i’ll specifically comment later -if i can get on the site.

  • Whatever

    Nice list!
    Some say the Chinese invented the umbrella, too. It’s an object that was so perfect since the beginning that has changed very little after thousands of years.

  • smurff

    Nice list – you learn something new everyday.

    Thanks Stevenh

  • lo

    some of the ancient porcelains mentioned are unrivaled in translucency combined with strength even today.

    also, the very first US commercial toilet paper “guaranteed 100% free of splinters!” wasn’t marketed until 1935 by northern tissue! (i don’t know how the europeans were doing with bathroom splinters “down there” at the time…)

    here’s proof on the toilet paper thing:

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/Story?id=91684&page=1

  • Yeah

    I don’t get why it took so long to mention movable type. You need to understand the result of all being able to communicate to the masses. Arguably, if it weren’t for movable type, we wouldn’t be at the point in technology which we are today to be reading and posting these infinite anecdotes. I mean white people did some nice things, but the more you look at Chinese history; you come to realize that they were way ahead of the rest of the world. Before they kept quiet for so damn long that is.

  • dbrownl

    what about glasses or printed money??? those were pretty big

  • mexecution

    what about oragmi didn’t they invent that i’m pretty sure they did shout to my homeboy rascalian

  • asimonsays

    I have had the same problem off and on. Make sure that you are putting http://www.listverse.com instead of https://listverse.com. For some reason that is causing issues and I dont know enough about the way the internet works to tell you why. All I know is that unless its got www in front of it my browser doesnt like it.

    Also, great list loads of interesting things in here.

  • scandal007

    Looks like the Chinese invented just about everything. Except for human-rights.

    Great list, Steven

  • SnowKid32

    I already heard of the movable type. Don’t forget the flamethrower!

  • Musicdee

    Fantastic list, some things I did not know

  • Hopefully the problems have been resolved – I wasn’t aware of it until late in the day hence the delays in fixing things.

  • msulli22

    Wow, great list! I learned a lot. I think I might have been vaguely aware of one or two of these, but almost all of it was new knowledge. I can’t believe that they figured out how to drill for gas so long ago!

  • nipper

    Chinese food is another great chinese invention

  • gabi319

    8. lo – “some of the ancient porcelains mentioned are unrivaled in translucency combined with strength even today.”

    You said what I was going to say! One of my art professors had a special fascination with Chinese and Japanese ancient cultures. She had brought in a few pieces from her collection at home, some porcelain cups among them. They felt so light and fragile that breathing near it seemed terrifying should they break. They did not, of course. If they can withstand centuries of use and abuse, they can withstand a few minutes of being looked at by college students.

    The Chinese also invented the bristled toothbrush. I think that is one of the most important inventions EVER.

  • isaac

    Sponge on stick? Aha that’s pretty smart

  • Halfcrown

    Isaac – my eyes are still watering at the thought of using corn cobs…

  • stevenh

    Good Morning:

    There were many more inventions and developments, of the Chinese that far preceeded western technology. Paper money, the umbrella, gunpowder … but my criteria was (a) at least two sources of information, (b) interesting item, (c) explainable in 1 or 2 paragraphs, and (d) only ten of them.

    13:scandal007: Regarding human rights – The Chinese instituted civil-service exams in 154 BCE. They were first used in England and France in the 1800’s. While not exactly ‘human rights’, these exams perhaps reduced some of the abritrary nature of government actions.

    To all: Thank you.

  • Batavier

    Very interesting… too bad the Chinese had a bit of a lapse in the past few centuries… :)

    But it seems they are catching up again.

  • stevenh

    8. lo: While true about the advert in 1935, I could not find absolute evidence that the competitive products had spliters. Remember that the ‘truth in advertising’ laws were not what they are today…

  • boomshine

    It’s strange how something like #1, which is so simple, can be so effective and beneficial.

  • eroe777

    About the only ones I knew were paper and moveable type. And I guess I always just assumed everyone knew porcelain was developed in China.

    Cool list. Thank you.

  • Shagrat

    You neglected to include the wheelbarrow: can’t recall when it was first depicted/described but it didn’t hit Europe for another 600 years after it was!

    Also: In position #7, you cite “Harness for horses: circa 200-581 AD”. If the Chinese INVENTED horse-harness as LATE as AD200 – what the #@*% were the Hyksos, Egyptians, Greeks, Persians and Romans using to anchor their chariots to the horses that pulled them with for the 1700 – 2000 years BEFORE the Chinese came up with the idea???

    (BTW the correct presentation of date should be AD200-AD 581 – the lettering comes after the numbering in BC dates only: ie 200BC. AD200)

  • Dave

    They also invented water tight integrity for ships modeled after bamboo stalks.

  • nzkitten

    i am so blase… i didnt know any of this! thanks for the informative list!

  • sticks downey

    my favorite part of the list:

    “This list, however, will take a slightly different slant of the topic”

    too funny.

  • rushi

    am surprised gunpowder is not on this list…

    amazing though, i had no idea about about most of this stuff, great list!

  • Tonio

    Geatest Chinese Invention: THE FOOD! yum :)

  • Jubbs

    Tonio: I agree wholeheartedly. This list is the worst i have ever read since you did not put there great food in! (Seriously though, nice list.)

  • Kep!

    Nice list, but I’m pretty sure you’ll find that Korea invented movable type in 1230.

  • JK the Fifth

    Behold, the greatest invention of all time : Toilet Paper. :D

  • oouchan

    Cool list. I only knew of the harness, the compass and porcelain. The rest were interesting to know. Good job.

  • stevenh

    @27: Shagrat:
    1) True, I did not mention the wheelbarrow (first described in China the 1st cent BCE, first depicted in Europe at the Chartres Cathedral in 1220 CE). Nor did I mention the segmental arch bridge (7th cent CE) , the drive belt (15 BCE), the parachute (some 1500 years before Da Vinci). Limiting the selection to 10 items required editing.

    2) The type of collars used in Egypt, Shang Dynasty China, Greece, Rome, etc was the less efficient throat-girth harness. There is a rather easy to understand description of the history in wikipedia (search “horse collar”), though this is not my primary source it is worth your time to read and understand.

    The difference in the technologies (collar as described vs a chest yoke vs throat-girth) are significant, increasing efficiency (and therefore agricultural output) by some 50%.

    3) Use of AD. I did not us the expression “AD” as this refers to a concept to which I do not subscribe – “anni domini” or “in the year of our lord”. I my submission the generic “BCE” and “CE” or “Before Common Era” / “Common Era” was used. Any complaints in this regard should be addressed to Jamie – The owner of listverse.

    31: Rushi – as noted above, there are many things that I needed to omit.

    34: Kep! – the movable type of Bi Sheng was described about 1050 about 200 years prior to the Korean cite.

  • Wonderful list! I knew many of the items on the list already, but some were absolutely new and exciting. I know that part of today will be spent delving into more of the ancient Chinese culture, which I have always loved.
    **lo** I, too had no access to LV for about 24 hours. I finally got access close to midnight last night, but too late to do more than post one or two items.

  • Erasmus

    Great list! Some I knew, some I didn’t but it started me on another quest – finding more info on these and other Chinese inventions.
    I love these lists – if I think they’re wrong, I check, if I think they’re right I read more about the subject. Either way I spend many happy hours learning new stuff. Thank you.

  • Pingback: 10 Great Ancient Chinese Inventions listverse.com - Twitoaster()

  • Wolfe

    If I recall correctly the Phoenecians invented the rudder and row planting (or was it terracing).

  • Hav

    Cool list.

    I registered like 3 days ago and still haven’t received my password..

  • bigski

    Yah China.Thanks for the T.P. I wonder if their T.P had any splinters ? Didn`t know but a few of these. Thanks for the education.

  • Shifty

    Great list
    There are several inventions in #5 that I find as remarkable as the drilling.
    “natural gas they used as a fuel to evaporate water from brine to produce salt. The natural gas was carried via bamboo pipes to where it was needed. There is also some evidence that the gas was used for light.”

  • Mr.Graves

    Yay for more global lists! Hopefully we can start to see lists about Mayan culture, African culture, Southeast Asia… good stuff! I wanted to submit some lists on Buddhism but I figured that the site probably gets overrun with people submitting lists and it would be a waste of time… I hope it keeps going in a global direction Jamie! The site will only expand for it and flourish… kudos!!

  • Villisca

    What about gunpowder?

  • Hav: email me at jamie at frater dot com with your username and the pass you want and I will set it up for you :)

  • whatthehell

    my english sucks just like you

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    HAHAHAHA Grab the wrong end of the stick!!!

  • What is wrong with the author of posts number 47 through 49?

  • Chris

    Back in the intro to this list: “…will take a slightly different slant of the topic…”. I wonder if that was intentional?

  • nipper

    concerning the passwords after registration, you should check your junk email folder, i got mine straight away but it was in the junk

  • cheapswill

    I lived in a city in Korea called Cheongju, which claims to be the birthplace of metal block movable type printing. They have a buddhist religious text, called Jikji, that was printed with this technique in 1377.

    My Korean students also claimed that nearly everything else on this list was invented in Korea too, but I digress…

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    49 segue- Are you really trying to tell me the thought of some Roman dude ruining his day by grabbing the shit end of an ass wiping stick is not hilarious? Cause it is you dumb turd

  • oouchan

    General Tits Von Chodehoffen: You didn’t see the other 2 comments that were here on this list that got deleted. The posts done by whatthehell were deleted due to content. It wasn’t against you at all. Otherwise wouldn’t the numbers she used include her comment?

  • Doc Rock

    While the Chinese invented moveable type–clay, wood, etc.–the Koreans were the first to cast metal moveable type. The Koreans also produce an encyclopedia before Diederot.

  • Looser

    good list didn’t know most of these

  • AG

    You know…I am surprised that 3 and 4 wasnt thought up in Europe until 16th/19th century….

  • bigski

    #53 GTVC~~Proceed at your own risk.

    The wok is a kickass instrument right ?

  • the william g

    The Koreans claim they invented the MP3 player, too – Koreans are the bums of N-E Asia, that’s for sure, copying Japan and China incessantly…

  • oouchan

    58. bigski: I own a wok! I can’t live without it. The best part is that my kid will not eat veggies because I cook japanese and chinese food in it. Guess it’s all in the presentation.

    As for the TP…What got me was the sentence “In colonial times in America (late 1700’s) it was still common to use corn-cobs or leaves.” A corn-cob….ouch!

  • studizzle

    I thought paper was invented by the Egyptians…anybody know the scoop on that?

  • bigski

    Not to be gross or anything but a corncob would be the last thing on my mind for T.P.
    Im like the baby bear on the commercial. #59 why so hard on Koreans. Kim-Chee is the best.

  • Shagrat

    StevenH – given that I have a history degree specialising in Ancient History – Rome, Greece, Egyptian & Celtic; I can assure you without reference to the FREQUENTLY incorrect and more frequently insufficient Wikipedia that the harnessing of chariot horses by even the Hyksos was a great deal more complex than a simple “collar” as you call it. Even the rudimentary harnessing arrangements used by the Celts were more elaborate than you suggest – theiur harnessing was complex enough and firm enough that they were able to run up and down the ‘ridge-pole’ while their horses were at full gallop – something they could NOT have done using a simple ‘collar-harness’.

    Face it – your list was incorrect on this one and Gunpowder has probably had as muchy bearing on modern history as Movable type – which was a Korean invention and not a Chinese one (though one could argue that they are culturally connected).

  • lo

    61. studizzle-

    i think the egyptian paper was papyrus, made from the beaten fibers of reeds. the chinese version was more like the paper we know today. both should count as “paper,” not sure which was earlier.

    oouchan- are you saying that your kids won’t eat a wok-stir-fried veggie because they’ve seen the same wok cook up asian dishes they dislike?

  • oouchan

    lo: Actually she won’t eat a veggie at all unless it’s stir-fried in the wok. I have tried everything. You see, she is a Asian fangirl. Loves everything Japanese and Chinese. Her room is decorated with everything asian. (I agree since I like all that stuff too!) Before I got the wok, I had to bribe or threaten her to eat a vegtable. But the moment I got the wok and a Japanese/Chinese cookbook, then she can’t get enough!

    Today she tried bamboo shoots.She didn’t want to, but I told her pandas eat the same thing everyday…just like the one I had on a fork for her to try…she fell for it. Now she likes them. :D

  • lo

    oouchan-

    i’m so happy you’ve found a way to interest your daughter in veggies.

    i’ve always thought the phenomenon of “picky eaters” (which i know comes close to being a life-altering issue for some people) was hard to understand.

    i think that if kids are presented many foods -and cultural types of food- right from the beginning of solids, without being taught that any are “bad,” becoming a “picky eater” is almost impossible.

    i guess it’s just hard for me to grasp, as i was raised an “adventurous” eater (with fresh garden herbs and veg as long as i can remember), and have just watched my now 6-year-old god-daughter do the same -and she gobbled everything from sushi to duck confit to vegan spicy indian-inspired dishes as soon as she could safely chew them (well, her dad is a professional chef). i’ve always delighted in getting to try something i’ve never had before, or something “odd” from another culinary tradition (i admit that the latter may be part of a desire to tell “and i ate ….. too!” stories, but it’s mostly genuine curiosity.)

    so wok on, my friend ;)

    i think a lot of people “decide” to hate foods without giving them a real chance. as you found out, sometimes the presentation and cultural implications are far more important than the taste!

  • Shifty

    I was a picky eater as a kid/teen but I like pretty much all food now. So there is hope for picky eaters, people can change.

  • lo

    shifty, mad props to you!

    i mean that in all sincerity :) i had a few friends in high school who could have been case studies in “picky eating.” they were mostly from homes where nobody had ever really cooked.

    i can understand thinking sushi or exotic veggies were scary when they’d been raised on restaurant/take-out, canned food, lunch-meat on white bread sandwiches, pizza, and a few frozen/microwavable meals (my friends dawn and jennie were exactly like that -both were also very thin, if not that well nourished, and saw food as a boring thing needed to survive, not a taste experience. i tried hard to convert them to new foods!)

    seriously, i think overcoming the “picky eater syndrome” requires a not insignificant amount of courage and willingness to risk new (and thus potentially unpleasant) experiences. again, congratulations :)

  • Mark

    65. oouchan : OH MY GOD! I LOVE BAMBOO SHOOTS! Can I come to your house, pretty please?

  • Ronsonic

    I’m pretty sure that the “guaranteed splinter free” thing was just good marketing. Let’s put it this way, there you are at the local dry goods store looking at the shelf of toilet paper and one of them says “splinter free” do you dare pick up anything else?

  • LubLub

    mexecution: Origami originates from Japan…

  • lo

    70. Ronsonic- i think we’re all in agreement on this point:)

    hence my “very first US commercial toilet paper ‘guaranteed 100% free of splinters!’ wasn’t marketed until 1935 by northern tissue!”

    and stevenh, this list’s creator, noted: “-I could not find absolute evidence that the competitive products had splinters. Remember that the ‘truth in advertising’ laws were not what they are today…”

    so, yeah, even if the competition was “100% splinter free” to start with, they lost out in the advertising game.

    but this doesn’t mean other TP manufacturers truly had a “soft ‘n silky” product.

  • lo

    about all that TP, maybe we’ll never know!

    but i can say that smooth river stones, and equally smooth sticks (used with “the long way” being the business surface) do work. and certain soft pine-cones may be employed, dependent on the local trees and local cone-softening weather…..

    i learned this while doing a “leave no trace” outward-bound backpacking trip at 16 (after that i did 2 more). if you pack in fresh TP you pack out used TP, so you learn to live without it….

    all that said, TP is a super-wonderful invention!

  • lo: I take it you have had no further problems connecting?

  • gabi319

    oouchan
    Re: vegetables, wok, stir-fry

    What is with you and turning EVERY comment board into a cooking blog? ;-)

  • archangel

    Nice list! Everyone knows China was the most continuous intellectual and political centre of the world until its lapse during the European expansion. xD

    And so it returns.

  • oouchan

    66. lo: Thanks for that! I totally agree, by the way! She used to eat anything I put before her right up to age 4. Then she goes to pre-school and the other kids teach her it’s bad. I really don’t know why parents allow that. Fabulous.
    It will take several years of me fighting with her after that to get her to eat just a few veggies with dinner! There were many times she went without food because she didn’t want to eat what I put before her. I am happy though that I now can get veggies in.

    69. Mark: Anytime! I make the best Chinese food ever! I have impressed some asian friends of mine with it! That’s hard to do. :)

    75. gabi319: I like to eat! If you saw my picture, you would know that. :D
    I am the product of my own culinary skills. (basically I’m fat!…mwahahaha!)

  • Lifeschool

    77: oochan – being ‘fat’ is only an issue in some parts of the world; in others it’s a sign of health!

    Good list stevenh – and thought provoking too. So glad Mr. Graves got his wish of more Eastern themed lists; are you from the ‘East’ yourself stevenh?

    On the subject of picky eaters, I was always brought up to eat anything – and coming from Lanashire, I do mean EVERYTHING! Liver and onions, hot pot, tripe! We couldn’t afford fast food so it was never a problem. Today, things have changed for me. Now, even though I can and will eat anything, I look at the quality of produce in the stores and can bring myself to stomach it. I know what goes into a chicken kiev, fish fingers, pies, cans filled with additives – I just can’t do it. I had a pizza the other day, and they’d put donnar meat and ‘fake’ plasticy cheese on it – eerrrgh :( Processed foods suck.

  • oouchan

    78. Lifeschool: I agree with that. Processed foods do suck. I have always tried to be healthy…however, I have diverticulitis and I am allergic to synthetic sugar and splenda. I swell up like a balloon if I have that stuff! I was also brought up to eat what was put in front of you and I want my kid to eat the same way. It’s starting to work. :)
    My guilty pleasure is bread. If I could cut that out, I would drop half my weight. My whole family is like that!

  • 53. General Tits Von Chodehoffen:
    There had been, previously, an extra comment of extreme distaste in the 27 – 29 grouping, which I commented on. Jamie, or one of the admin’s, deleted that comment, leaving my comment in post #29 position.
    Now, anyone with an ounce of logic and sense would have figured that one out for themselves, but you aren’t just anyone.

  • Dan

    what? no gunpowder?

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    80 segue- Well maybe if you had an ounce of logic you would have realized that they would have been deleted leaving my comment, pointing out something hilarious, under your scrutiny. In closing STFU you overgrown dingleberry.

  • TEX

    79. oouchan
    Drop bread?
    Easy, just replace it with pasta, potatoes, corn, etc.
    (just kidding – speaking as a carb fiend)

  • oouchan

    83. TEX: hahaha! I would…but pasta is just as bad. :)
    (It doesn’t stop me from eating it though!)

  • Rolo Tomasi

    They invented silk also. They didn’t technically invent it but they were the first to weave it into fabric.

  • Rolo Tomasi

    Oh and dont forget Kung Fu!!!

  • lo

    jfrater-

    yes, no more dropped connections. thanks for whatever you fixed :D

  • TEX

    Hey – There’s a food topic for ya. Didn’t the Chinese invent pasta of some form??

  • oouchan

    Didn’t they invent pizza?

  • bigski

    Whoever invented pizza has my un dieing love.

  • bigski

    So I cain`t spell.Sue me.

  • Bedev

    What about Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture? The Chinese were the first to write down medical complications to be treated with herbs and needles and still in use today!

  • Struth

    Great list stevenh, keep it going! Nice work on “wrong end of the stick”!

  • =Eric

    Great list! But with #70 I think the “splinter free” bit simply exemplifies the commercial hype of the day, in the US. An equivalent hype in the same period was one of the companies using albacore as tuna, and saying “Guaranteed not to turn pink in the can!”

    =Eric

  • Fireball

    They may or may not be Chinese inventions. The most you can say is the Chinese were the first to write down these ideas and have the record survive to the present day.

  • RandallBites TheBig1

    My favorite inventions by the Chinks are fried rice and sweet and sour chicken, the Far East Massage Parlor and of course chinese checkers.

  • MC

    Wow…..Guess I haven’t been appreciating toilet paper as much as I should have. Speaking of which………

  • TEX

    90. bigski
    You and I are truly copasetic. I have always held that pizza is proof for the existence of god (or whoever), that and the female form.

    – many happy endings to all

  • bigski

    I hear ya.

  • thechick

    Wow, thanks for putting together this list. As a student of western Art History and History I was unaware of many of these things.

  • The Good Governnment

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  • Beth29

    What a great list

    63. Shagrat you know I was wondering what people did with all their used “corn cobs” after “wiping” apparently you gather them and stick them up your ass! What a loser!

  • lo

    102. Beth29-

    you think that someone having a real-world expertise in ancient eastern studies means they have a stick/corn-cob up their ass?

    yeah, the comment was pretentious, but it did have some good info in it. let’s not all be calling each other “losers” unless we can back it up, hmmm?

  • Robbie

    Excellent list!
    And yeah, the omission of gunpowder is quite a surprise..
    (“spaghetti”?!.. not from Italy???)

  • LunaticMoon

    Wow!! Smart bunch of people …:)

    @Whatever

    Umbrella was invented in ancient India. To protect from sun.

  • tomatoxide

    amazingly interesting and informative list..didn know about the toiletpaper always thought of it as a western concept

  • bostic

    nice going with the toilet paper… its really nice too have….

  • Alexandre

    Christina Boyle is good girl

  • lostatsea

    It was the Han dynasty: an inventor who made the first earthquake machine two thousand yrs ago, also the water wheel, interlocking gears, clocks and astronomical waterworks, gunpowder, cannons, clockwork puppets etc.etc.
    Great lists!! I’ve become addicted!!

  • Odd

    An interesting list however the author should be aware that many of these inventions are unlikely to be Chinese. Spaghetti was a Moorish invention based on Roman linguini. The compass is middle eastern in origin. Though they had useful farming implements the tool you have described as a seed drill could never have functioned as such. It’s notoriously difficult to trace inventions prior to about 700 years ago but the evidence given for many of these artifacts comes from flimsy evidence such as a vague line of text or an unclear picture. For example, the Chinese claim to have invented football as there is an image of what looks like a ball possibly being kicked by a person in formal dress robes. Hmmmm. Row planting and rudders probably pre-date Chinese civilization and were likely brought from Indus valley civilizations. The iron plough is likely to be Chinese because metallurgy developed far earlier in the far east. I am no chemist but a chemistry article I read said that iron in the far east contains far more oxide which allows for a far lower melting temperature than usual. Hence the importance of bronze and iron age. There seems to be a drive to portray the Chinese as great inventors but there just isn’t much evidence and I very much doubt if it was ever so.

  • Odd

    to the william g. The mp3 player was invented by a British guy called Kane Kramer in 1979. It was far too early, before the technology had caught up so he couldn’t sell his idea. He kept the patent hoping to make a killing and stopping anyone else developing it but in the 1990’s Korean companies who don’t much care for patents started producing their own version. This is the basis for their ‘claim’. Kramer realizing he could never compete let the patent slip so that the big companies could have a chance. Which is why the big companies where so slow in picking up on the mp3 players.

  • Odd

    to Doc Roc – Diderot did not ‘invent’ the encyclopedia. The idea has been around for ages, probably since before recorded history. The Roman Pliny the Elder wrote one. However, Diderot’s encyclopedia was vastly superior to anything that went before for he is often ‘honoured’ with title of inventor of the encyclopedia. The same is true of Samuel Johnson’s dictionary. It wasn’t the first but it was revolutionary.

  • Odd

    To Shagrat – I can’t comment on the Celtic harnesses for horses it does seem that this invention, like many others, was invented in several different places independently. Necessity being the mother of invention. The Celtic race were outstandingly inventive. As for movable type, that is definitely a Chinese invention. The Koreans improved it by using metal movable type whereas the Chinese only used wood. A small but important improvement. Movable type and gunpowder are two lesser know Chinese inventions because they were of little use to the Chinese. There wasn’t the demand for literature that was created by the reformation in Europe; gunpowder was mostly useless until key improvements were made by the French in the hundred years war that allowed it to be used against armies not just fortifications.

  • Odd

    P.S. Don’t shag rats. They carry diseases.

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  • What?

    “The Chinese instituted civil-service exams in 154 BCE.”

    Wow. That’s the best you can do when a guy points out the millennian history of Chinese subjugation?

    Perhaps it’s time for someone to make a list of the top-ten most despotic Chinese emperors.

  • auradis

    Huray for Chinese ingenuity! Unfortunately, the current state of Chinese toilet paper sadly lags behind the softness of US toilet paper. The stuff you find even in people’s homes is dismally inadequate…

  • TrixRabbi

    And fireworks! Don’t forget fireworks!

  • suren

    toilet paper??? Yuck, switch to water

  • Julieann

    Woah, I never knew the Chinese invented toilet paper…

  • chinese2009
  • chinese2009

    China Syndrome
    An Internet guide to the technological wonders of the Middle Kingdom

    http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/naturenet/031228/china-syndrome

  • XL

    Another one that nobody has mentioned is pi. Okay not really an invention, and they didn’t call it “pi”, but the Chinese mathmatician Zu Chong Zhi was the first to calculate pi to be somewhere between 3.1415926 and 3.1415927.

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  • boredasfuck

    sucks that i have to do a 5 paraghrap essay it fucken sucks

  • Urzferrevr

    they also invented the paper currency and others they shud put that up too

  • electrocosmic

    Good list!

  • anon

    for those mentioning before about somethings being invented in other places first…many things were invented and reinvented all over the world. for instance, agriculture…you find it everywhere but began in different places at different times

  • TheLoneJager

    Gunpowder?

  • stephanie

    These are some very interesting facts.It shows a-lot of descresption.It helped me a-lot with my school project

  • short stuff

    you guys sud post more inventions i just did a project & i need more info especially in da medicine they discovered

  • lister

    Oh My God… How can you forget GUNPOWDER. The chinese people invented that too. Don’t forget about Paper… a lot of people think the Egyptians invented it, but the chinese people were first.

  • bbrownie

    dis is cool

  • Sluiq

    Some other things not mentioned:

    Art of War – Despite not being the first strategic tome, it’s probably the 1st most definitive and efficient text on war.

    Chinese Chess – predated tabletop turn based war games

    Great Wall of China – Though this seems like just a long wall, it is one of the few cases of Republic unity. Not sure if there is another term for it. Though it was built by a tyrant, the plans worked because it was several city walls prior to that and back then it was on par with a vision for an ultimate armored country just because of the way technology was back then and to have it succeed considering the resources of the time even with the casualties is still one of the greatest achievements of ancient civilizations.

    Chemical warfare – Technically it was just fire but Zhuge Liang’s Battle of Chi Bi tactics were on par with how viruses were to be released over a large group of the population.

    Practical Martial Arts – Though the Mongols were fiercer warriors, I don’t think there was such an ancient civilization who valued all aspects of weaponry and hand to hand combat as China did.

    For example the legendary Chinese general Lu Bu was famed not only because he was a fierce warrior but because of aspects to his skill: archery, horse riding maybe even spear wielding.

    Prior to that no other culture has praised a combination of their greatest warrior’s long range, short range, horse riding and athletic capability.

    Sure the weapons may be discovered but the multi-variable aspects of combat needs to be invented as back then physical prowess was more important than a practical approach to combat.

    Dams/rams/alchemy – These ones I’m not so sure but as has been said, there are many innovations China would have discovered way way before Western civilizations.

    Grammar – There were languages that predated chinese characters but I don’t know of any writing style that evolved faster than those Chinese characters as far as how each stroke has value and there are multi-syllabic multi-morphemic qualities that even today far exceed the order of the other mainstream written languages used today.

    Politics – Though not in terms of inventing governance, many of the underhanded tactics and diplomatic rituals the Chinese participated in were not done to that scale prior to that. They were one of the first civilization to have expanded the role of peace and war to formal concubines, duels, isolationism, massive drafts, blood brotherhood, honor, ethics, shame, rebellion, torture… most thanks to Sun Tzu’s Art of War but they also have one of the first massive scale warring period in the events prior to the Three Kingdom.

  • Pingback: 10 Great Ancient Chinese Inventions | muxbir.com()

  • dumbchineseguy

    interesting i didn't know any of this and i am chinese

  • boob

    Another interesting one is the doom watch clock. used carved dragons and little balls to measure earthquakes.

  • petter

    ermmm.. you do know the romans/europeans, 2000 years ago had a more developed society in technical terms then the most advanced cultures in the 1700`s? they had hot baths everywhere.. with aquaducts carrying this water, even through the deserts of north africa to citys there. amazing engineering, like the use of advanced hydraulics to solve many energy problems. paved roads like todays, everywhere in europe. real arcitechture of solid stone and tiles. hundreds of things could be mentioned in this context.. forget the rusty eiffel tower in france, go see the magnificent medieval cathedrals instead! you will not be disappointed. they are the most beautiful buildings ever constructed by humanity. when at the same time in people in china were mostly living in bamboo villages.

    • petter

      yes the chinese had some inventons. but for every chinese invention we use today, we use hundred inventions from europe. i don`t understand this fanatical plain wrong love usa have for asians. take the katana sword.. its hailed as the greatest sword ever built. this is wrong, the germans had the same technology for forging blades as the japanese, only 600 years earlier. and the blades were equal or better in battle. usable against metal armor which the katana is not. in unarmored battle, the rapier is superior to the katana as modern research have shown. not the first nor the last thing hollywood will get wrong. and take sophisticated culture.. music, painting and litterature… 95% of it you use come from, or is based upon european, not asian.

    • petter

      i think americans don`t like to think anyone is more superior to them in nearly every aspect, so they hush down european culture, even though they are theire ancestors.. and their superiors. unbelievable really. a good example is the large hadron collider in europe, americans didn`t quite understand its being built because it would not produce any income, and it costs billions. whats the point then. well the point with this is that we in 5-20 years if clever, come the understand and master fusion, and it will be the greatest discovery for the human race to date. it involves producing almost infinte energy like the sun, and possibly light speed travel far into the future. in short words master the powers of the universe. we europeans don`t land on the moon to impress/intimidate the russians, we actually use science to something useful. i rambled alot in this post, but it was good to get it of my chest :)

  • lainey

    IS their anything about the Chinese inventing a fishing reel? I'm doing a school paper and can't find anything on this invention. Help please!

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  • Zeke

    Great list! I wonder how far we’d be now if technological trades between ancient China and Ancient European countries were established.

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  • Sam

    I heard that a form of pizza was invented by the Chinese, and they were first to have noodles.

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  • Ella

    they also invented the brolly and pie splatterer

  • aldse123

    i said wheelbarrows not other stuff

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    Thanks. I was in a tough situation for my history homework and I needed 10 items the Ancient Chinese invented. I also needed notes on Confucianism, Buddhism, a picture of each, and the definition of scholar official. This was the hardest part. Heh…
    Thank so much.

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