Professor Opelia Binkley-Webb
March 3, 2013
China’s long history has seen some extremely important inventions emerge, most noticeably Gunpowder, Papermaking, Printing, and Compass. 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 of the greatest contributions to civilization stem from ancient China. Four of these are the invention of the compass, the invention of papermaking, the invention of gunpowder (for good or for worse!), and the invention of printing. Others may have improved upon the idea, either inspired by the Chinese example or in parallel (many of mankind's discoveries have occurred - and continue to occur - simultaneously in different parts of the world, which can only attest to the ingeniousness of the species), but it was the Chinese who first arrived at these four bright ideas. China's four great ancient inventions made tremendous contributions to the world's economy and the culture of mankind. They were also important symbols of China's role as a great world civilization. The invention of the compass is the result of China ancient working people know to the object magnetism in the long-term practice. When Chinese invented the magnetic...