The Four Great Inventions
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|China's long history has seen some extremely important inventions emerge, most noticeably gunpowder, paper | | |making, printing and the compass, which, in the words of Roger Bacon, changed the whole appearance and status of | | |things in the world. | | |China was the first country in the world to make proper paper. Paper made during the Western Han Dynasty (202 | | |BC-16 AD) has been found in Gansu Province, Xi'an and other places in Shaanxi Province as well as Xinjiang. A | | |further development of paper is credited to Cai Lun of the Eastern Han (25-220). He used plant fiber such as tree| | |bark, bits of rope, rags and worn-out fishing nets as raw materials. In 105, Cai presented the first batch of | | |paper made under his supervision to the Han emperor, who was so delighted that he named the material "Marquis | | |Cai's paper". Eastern Han Dynasty paper found in Wuwei, Gansu, in 1974 carried words which were still clearly | | |decipherable. Thin, soft, and with a smooth finish and tight texture, this paper is the most refined and oldest | | |paper discovered to date. | | |Before paper was invented, the ancient Chinese carved characters on pottery, animal bones and stones, cast them | | |on bronzes, or wrote them on bamboo or wooden strips and silk fabric. These materials, however, were either too | | |heavy or two expensive for widespread use. The invention and use of paper brought about a revolution in writing | | |materials, paving the way for the invention of printing technology in the years to come. | | |The invention of gunpowder was no doubt one of the most significant achievements of the Middle Ages in China. The| | |correct prescription for making gunpowder with nitre, sulphur...
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