Ancient Chinese Innovations Jennifer E Strayer University Humanities 111 Ancient Chinese Innovations The ancient Chinese culture has probably contributed more to the advancement of humans than any other. In China’s long history they have shown us many extremely important inventions. In the modern world we take a lot of these innovations for granted even though we use many of them on a daily basis. I have often wondered who invented many items I use and it surprised me to find out that most things I use and quite possibly cannot live without were invented in ancient China.
What would we do if paper had not been invented we may still be etching on stone and bones? Cai Lun successfully invented the very first batch of paper using fish nets and tree bark around 105 BCE. The invention of toilet paper would not have been possible without making paper first. Navigation was made easier with the invention of the compass. Would marinara sauce taste as good if it were not covering pasta or ravioli? Pasta was invented around 300 BCE, nearly 2000 years before the Italian or the Arabs. Would the wars of the world ended the way they did without gunpowder?
Around 850 CE, Chinese alchemist discovered gunpowder while searching for immortality. Many historical records and books might not have been made if it were not for the ease of moveable-type printing, which allowed for mass production of written material. Earthquake detection is another invention that many might not have lived without it. The early seismograph created during the Han dynasty around 132 CE used a pendulum to alert for a coming earthquake. While it is not known who first invented the sundial, the first mechanical clock was an important innovation by the ancient Chinese. Clark, 2009; Laudan, 2000; University C. , n. d; Unknown, Top 10 greatest inventions of ancient China, 2007) I think the four most innovative inventions given to us by China are the compass, toilet paper, moveable-type printing and the sundial. The magnetic compass was first made somewhere between 221-206 BCE during the Qin dynasty. The original use was in fortune telling until it was discovered that it was better used at pointing out real directions. Originally used as padding or packing material n the second century BCE, the early Chinese writers mention using toilet paper as we do today as early as 589 BCE. The Chinese invented Woodblock printing over 2,000 years ago. Bi Sheng invented moveable clay type printing from which all later printing methods were developed from. The world’s first clock was invented by Yi Xing, a Buddhist monk and mathematician, his clock operated by having water drip onto a wheel that made a revolution every 24 hours. Hundreds of years later Su Song, an astronomer and mechanist, created what we know as the ancestor of the modern clock. Bellis, n. d; University C. , n. d; Unknown, Top 10 greatest inventions of ancient China, 2007) Our modern world was created on the foundation of these innovations, they have been improved upon and upgraded over the centuries but the basic ideas remain the same. If there were one of these inventions that I simply would not want to live without it would have to be toilet paper. While water was the common way to cleanse after each trip to the bathroom, the convenience and ease of using toilet paper had travelers to China commenting about people’s cleanliness as early as 851 CE.
In any natural disaster one key thing is sanitation; toilet paper is much more sanitary than using your hand and some water. A few months ago I saw a documentary called No Impact Man, where Colin Beaven, his wife and daughter, took part in a yearlong experiment to see if they could go that long and not impact the environment. One of the experiments was if they could go a year without using toilet paper. They did it, using cloth instead, just like cloth diapers, wash and reuse. While I know now that I could survive without toilet paper, I simply would not want to. Rowles, 2010) Works Cited Barsoum, D. M. (2006, December 18). Solving the Mysteries of the Pyramids. Retrieved January 23, 2012, from Department of Materials Science & Engineering: http://www. materials. drexel. edu/News/Item/? i=948 Bellis, M. (n. d). The Compass and other Magnetic Innovations. Retrieved February 25, 2012, from inventors. About. com: http://inventors. about. com/od/cstartinventions/a/Compass. htm Clark, J. (2009, March 9). Top 10 Ancient Chinese Inventions. Retrieved February 17, 2012, from HowStuffWorks. com: