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Ancient Chinese Contributions

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Many individuals perceive civilization as a modern phenomenon that began recently. However, civilization has its origins in the ancient world. According to archaeologists, simple communities advanced and became complex due to several factors. For instance, people faced myriad challenges, which they tried to solve through various approaches. Hence, they made discoveries as they tried to solve their challenges. Therefore, the ancient civilization occurred in various territories across the world.  For example, in Africa, the ancient Egyptians made various discoveries, which have remained important in the modern world. Apart from Egypt, civilization flourished in other empires such as Greek, China, and Mesopotamia.  This paper discusses the ancient Chinese inventions (Charles, 1963).

Ancient Chinese Inventions

China has a long history that stretches back to approximately six thousand years.  China has been able to advance its civilization over the years. According to the Chinese traditions, the concept of integrating humans and nature acted as a logical perception of the universe. This kind of perception enabled them to discover items and systems, which are distinct from those of the Western societies. They made their discoveries through systematic and comprehensive thinking.

The Ancient Chinese engaged in a wide range of economic activities that included cultivation, fishing, and metallurgy. These activities enabled them to make various discoveries, which include the following. “Some of their contributions include kites, silk cloth, porcelain, fireworks, rudder, planetarium, compass, abacus, printing, kites, herbal medicine, acupuncture, gunpowder, and paper making” (Ebrey, 1993). The Chinese also secured their territory by constructing a significant wall called the great wall. The great wall also depicts the Chinese system of architecture, which was another important aspect of their cultural practices. Four of the above mentioned inventions were significant due to the following reasons.

Important Inventions


A compass is an object that facilitates navigation, since it indicates bearing in a frame of location. The Han Dynasty was characterized by many inventions, and the compass was one of them. In China, the compass served various purposes. For example, it was used in conducting religious activities. During construction of buildings, the Chinese used it to determine the location of a building in relation to the universe. This was done to ensure that a given structure was in harmony with nature. The ancient Chinese believed that structures that faced the north linked humans with nature, and this facilitated peace and prosperity in their society. Apart from the application of compass in construction, it was later applied in navigation especially after the eleventh century. The Europeans later adopted its use during the medieval period. The primordial compass that was constructed in China looked like a wooden circle. It was marked at strategic points, and a magnetic spoon was mounted on it.


Chinese alchemists discovered gunpowder during the ninth century. The gunpowder facilitated the making of fireworks, and other early weapons were also made using gunpowder. From China, other territories in the Middle East embraced the use gunpowder as prime material for making weapons. Indeed, the gunpowder served as the only chemical explosive until the 18050s. Gunpowder remained relevant in making military equipment for along time. It was only abandoned after the discovery of better alternatives (Jack, 2004).


In ancient China, paper production also took place from around 105 CE, during the Han Dynasty. “It was made using many materials including mulberry, bast fibers, and hemp waste” (Ebrey, 1993). From the second century, paper was used for padding, and various items were also wrapped using paper. During the third century, paper became a medium of writing. In addition to paper production, the Chinese also produced ink, which they used for writing on papers.


Printing is among the four most basic discoveries of ancient China. Printing is believed to have been practiced from a round the seventh century, in the Han Dynasty. After the invention of writing, there was need for people to produce more written materials, and this encouraged the invention of the printing process. Printing began as a rudimentary process, but it later developed tremendously as more people got engaged in writing. For example, the block printing was the initial printing process, and it was cumbersome (Yinke, 2005).

The above discussed inventions from ancient China have been greatly honored, since they have made modern civilization possible. This is because without them modern civilization could not have been possible. For example, gunpowder significantly contributed toward the manufacture of modern military explosives. Secondly, Paper production made writing easier, and this led to massive production of literature. Thirdly, with the invention of printing, ideas spread quickly in various places. Hence, it has enhanced the rate of civilization. Lastly, in the modern world, the compass is used for navigation and exploration activities (Gernet, 1996).

At present, I find printing very important because without it people cannot learn and make new discoveries. This is because modern civilization relies much on research, which is conducted through intensive reading of printed materials. Moreover, people need to share information, and this has been facilitated by printing. For example, newspapers have a big readership due to printing services.


The above discussion has revealed many discoveries that the ancient Chinese made. Many scholars who have examined the ancient civilization have noted that the Chinese inventions paved the way for modern inventions. Indeed, the modern civilization that prevailed in Europe greatly depended on the early discoveries. It is also believed that the Chinese civilization reached Europe through the Silk Road, which acted as a major trade route that linked Europe and China.

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