15 Greatest Chinese Inventions Of the Ancient Times

We now know China as a gigantic superpower and a country that is the leading manufacturer of various products that sell worldwide. It is no wonder that China’s current scenario and model of development and progress had roots in its glorious past. Chinese inventions hundreds of years ago took over the world then and even now they seem to make our lives better than what they would have been without those inventions. So now let’s dive into the ancient Chinese inventions and get to know our fellow Asian country on a much deeper level.

1. Paper Making

Ancient Chinese Inventions

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According to historians, this dates back to 105 AD. Everything from notebooks to newspapers makes use of paper. No matter how much technology and digital world progresses, paper making will remain a remarkable invention in the history of human civilization. The credit goes to the Chinese. Paper was invented in China during the ancient times and a eunuch named Cai Lun helped drive its widespread use across different countries. This technology of paper making spread across Asia through the well renowned Silk Road.

2. Gunpowder

Ancient Chinese Inventions

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It was invented by Taoist alchemists of China around 1000 AD. It was accidentally made when those alchemists were trying to find a potion by mixing elemental sulfur, charcoal and saltpetre. Although they didn’t make the potion but whatever came out of that chemical reaction, it was worth the time and effort. The interesting thing is that Chinese used gunpowder for making firecrackers while they got attacked by Europeans in mid 1800s when Europeans used the same gunpowder in cannons and guns.

3. Compass

Ancient Chinese Inventions

Compass

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This is yet another remarkable addition to the list of Chinese inventions. Compass was invented in 1100 AD and since then it is being widely used for navigation purpose by military, travelers and in transportation. The first compass invented by Chinese was used for laying out buildings for Feng Shui purpose. This was way back in the 2nd century BC. By 1000 AD advanced compasses were used by Chinese for navigation in ships and slowly this invention reached the west by fellow tradesmen from Arab countries.

4. Mechanical Clock

Chinese Inventions

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Yi Xing who was a Buddhist monk invented the first mechanical kind of clock – water driven birds in spherical shape, in the year 725 AD. It operated by the help of dripping water which gave power to a wheel that made one revolution in 24 hours. This was not technically a great clock, but was way better than the sundials that only used to work in daytime. Few hundred years later a more sophisticated and mechanized clock called the Cosmic Empire was developed by a Chinese inventor Su Song. I believe if it weren’t the Chinese we would still be relying on sun positions to check time!

5. Alcohol

Ancient Chinese Inventions

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It was believed that the people in Arabian peninsula were the first brewers. But it was about a few years back when it was discovered that the roots of alcohol production are in China and they began making alcohol one century before the Arabians began. Alcohol is one of the most amazing inventions since it is used in organic chemistry, medical science and for human consumption. It is known as Jiu in Chinese and is often used as a spiritual offering to Heaven and Earth in their traditional culture. Studies show that beer containing 4-5% of alcohol was commonly consumed in China during ancient times and the evidence of this is mentioned on various inscriptions on oracle bones of the Shang dynasty.