Chinese inventions - Q-files

Chinese mechanical clock

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China was the land of numerous inventions that played an important role not only for the Chinese but for the rest of the world as well. The Four Great Inventions of ancient China include papermaking, the compass, gunpowder, and printing.

Chinese were able to develop technologies that required knowledge in numerous fields including mechanics, hydraulics, mathematics, horology, astronomy, agriculture, engineering, craftsmanship, nautics, and warfare. Find out which inventions created in ancient China are considered to be some of the most important.

Noodles

Quite often when we think of pasta we associate it with Italy. However, the Chinese were the first who invented noodles. In fact noodles have been popular in China for over 4, 000 years (according to the latest archeological data). The oldest example of pasta (in the picture) was discovered in Qinghai province.

It is worth mentioning that the discovered 4000-year-old noodles were made using the fast-growing cereal plant foxtail millet (the most important planted species in East Asia) and proso millet.

Historians say that the Arabs used pasta or noodle-like food for long trips in the fifth century. They were the ones to bring the food to Sicily when they invaded the region back in the 8th century.

When the early European explorers reach China they also learned about the nutritious value of noodles and decided to bring the recipe to European cooks.

Silk

Just like the first noodles, this invention has a long history, being created about 4, 000 years ago. It would be interesting to note that this material is made from the silkworm moth's cocoon, which is dropped into boiling water and then silk thread can be unwound.

A Chinese legend says that the first silk thread was created when a cocoon accidentally fell into the hot tea of Si-Ling-Chi, a Chinese Empress and the wife of Emperor Huang-ti. She found that the threads of the cocoon were uncoiling and decided later to experiment with silkworms. In 2400 B.C. she managed to come up with the way of using silk in weaving.

Silk turned out to be very important to the economy of China and people kept its secret for thousands of years and the Great Wall of China helped them to do so.

The Silk Road helped the Chinese to trade their valuable silk fabric to other nations. Japan was able to obtain the secrets of raising silkworms and silk manufacturing in the 3rd century.

Great Wall of China

This is one of the seven famous wonders of the world, representing a series of fortifications made initially of stone, earth and later of bricks. It was erected in 221 BC with the goal of protecting the northern borders of the country from different nomadic groups that invaded the Chinese Empire. By that time the Chinese already possessed the techniques of wall-building. However, the first materials used were rammed earth, stones, and wood.

During the Ming Dynasty (from 368 to 1644), people started using bricks in a lot of areas of the wall. They also used tiles, lime, and stone.

The Great Wall extends from Shanhaiguan located in the east, to Lop Lake found in the west. It roughly defines the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. With the help of advanced technologies, researchers were able to conclude that the wonder with all of its branches extend to a distance of 8, 851.8 kilometers (5, 500.3 miles). It has been estimated that more than a million of workers died during the construction process and some of them were buried among the bricks of the wall.

A very important aspect of the wall was communication between the army units. To be able to call for reinforcements and signal of enemy movements, it was decided to build signal towers. The latter were placed on different high points along the wall so they could be clearly seen.

The Great Wall is the world's largest construction and the only man-made structure that can be seen from space. Today tourists can visit some parts of the wall that were renovated by the Chinese government.

Compass - One of the Four Greatest Inventions

The first magnetic compass was invented in China probably during the Qin dynasty (221-206 BC). Lodestone, a naturally magnetized mineral composed of iron oxide, was initially used by fortune tellers in ancient China to make their fortune telling boards.

Source: www.infoniac.com
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