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Ancient Chinese Technology


The Chinese were able to make great advances in science and technology even ... Chinese culture places a strong emphasis on learning ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Ancient Chinese Technology

Ancient Chinese Technology
Overcoming Obstacles
  • The Chinese were able to make great advances in
    science and technology even during periods of war
    and unrest
  • Chinas history is a chronicle of struggle for
    power among different groups
  • The people of China had to cope with long periods
    of foreign occupation

How culture affects science
  • Positive
  • Chinese culture places a strong emphasis on
  • Chinese from each different era shared a common
    written language
  • Chinese culture placed a premium on ingenuity
  • Negative
  • China is very closed to foreign Ideas
  • Chinese emperors greeted ambassadors with

  • Chinese history is organized into dynasties, or
    periods of time that a certain family or group
    was in power.
  • The earliest dynasty is rumored to have formed
    around 2000 BC
  • The earliest dynasty that has been proven to
    exist formed in 1523 BC

Chinese Dynasties
  • Shang
  • Western Chou
  • Eastern Chou
  • Chin
  • Han
  • Six Dynasties
  • Sui

Chinese Dynasties
  • Tang
  • Five Dynasties
  • Northern Sung
  • Southern Sung
  • Yuan
  • Ming
  • Ching
  • Peoples Republic of China

Before Civilization
Before Civilization
  • Around 2000 BC Chinese began to gather in large
  • In these towns they learned
  • To cultivate rice and wheat
  • Techniques of carpentry
  • Methods to create fine pottery
  • They also began recording their ideas onto strips
    of bamboo

Before Civilization
  • Chinese civilization began its first development
    along the Huang Ho(Yellow river)
  • Due to flooding the people began to work together
    toward a common goal, to produce enough food
  • Villagers would construct dikes and levees to
    control the river and canals to direct the water

Before Civilization
  • Floods would destroy the barriers that the
    villagers created about every 5 years
  • After their destruction the barriers would be
    replaced with even stronger ones
  • This cooperative environment allowed for a new
    exchange of ideas and consequently tools and
    weapons of bronze were created along with silk,
    picture writing, carts and war charriots

  • Governed 20 of modern day China
  • Created ornately decorated vases and pots
  • Some of the oldest writing was found from this
  • Unfortunately the Shang became too comfortable
    and lost their skills of warfare and were soon

Western Chou
Western Chou
  • Organized China into a number of states each
    ruled by a duke
  • Used iron tools
  • Vastly increased wheat production

Eastern Chou
Eastern Chou
  • Saw a dramatic population increase
  • Towns grew into cities
  • Merchants began to flourish
  • Adopted iron swords in the state of Chin around
    500 BC

  • The iron sword allowed the state of Chin to
    overthrow the Chou and form a new dynasty
  • Ruled by king Cheng who
  • Standardized monies, weights, measures, and axel
    widths to aid merchantry
  • Built the Great Wall
  • The second ruler of the Chin Dynasty was spoiled
    and lazy, after rebellions he commited suicide
  • The third ruler was eventually overthrown by a
    peasant named Lui Pang giving way to the Han

  • The Han Dynasty was an era of political and
    scientific greatness
  • Trade was encouraged with the west
  • Silk, spices, fur, and porcelain were exported
  • Wool, linen, glass, precious stones, gold, jade,
    fine horses, craftsmen, grapes, and raisins were
    all imported
  • Technology also saw great advances
  • A device to measure distant earthquakes was
  • Sunspots were studied and eclipse were accurately
  • A great deal was learned about chemistry

Six Dynasties
Six Dynasties
  • After the collapse of the Han Dynasty the nation
    became split between competing warlords
  • A new dynasty called the Chin had gained power
    for a short time, but was defeated soon after
  • After defeat the Chin Dynasty reformed in the
    southeast where they survived until around 419 AD

  • After the period of constant struggle the Sui
    Dynasty recontrolled a large empire that lasted 2
  • The Sui built the Grand Canal of China linking
    two of Chinas most important cities
  • The second emporer to take power was too
    tyrannical and was eventually slain putting an
    end to the great dynasty

  • The first dynasty to surpass the splendor of the
  • Ruled by Li Yuan around 618 AD, but really saw
    success under the rule of Ming Huang from 712-756
  • During this dynasty Chang-an became one of the
    key cities of the world and China was fully
    exposed to the west

Tang Acheivements
  • The Chinese developed printing during this time
    period, hundred of years before Europeans
  • They also created gunpowder for novelty
  • Short hand was invented to aid in note taking
  • They began to use something similar to
    fingerprinting for contracts

Five Dynasties
Five Dynasties
  • During this time period China once again saw
    power constantly changing hands
  • The weaker groups were forced to pay large sums
    of money for peace

Northern Sung
Northern Sung
  • The Sung, who controlled a small area in the
    south, were defeated by the Jurchen
  • The Jurchen required that the Sung pay a hefty
    price for peace
  • This eventually became too much for the Sung to

Southern Sung
Southern Sung
  • Was formed in a very small area by the Sung
    emperors brother
  • The Southern Sung, as they came to be called,
    signed a treaty with the Jurchen around 1141 and
  • The Southern Sung then developed the first
    chinese navy
  • During this period northern China was conquered
    by the Mongols, led by Genghis Kahn

  • After the rule of Genghis Kahn he was succeeded
    by Ogodai and then Kublai
  • Kublai Kahn eliminated the Southern Sung and
    controlled the largest area to date
  • Kublai named his new territory the Yuan, which
    means The First Beginning

  • With almost all of asia under one ruler Europeans
    could enjoy safe travel and began to visit China
  • Among these guests were the Polo family, their
    son Marco became a roving ambassador
  • This was another period of strong social
    development for China

Mongol Rule
  • Led by Chu Yuan-chang the Ming were able to
    overthrow the Mongols by 1371
  • The Ming, unlike their predecessors were very
    conservative and cautious rulers
  • A fear for the influence of the western world was
    redeveloped and trade was eventually cut off
  • The Great Wall was rebuilt and strengthened
  • China ceased to innovate and gave up its position
    as a world leader

Ming Foreign Technology
  • Despite the fear of outsiders when in fear of a
    Mongol attack the Ming commisioned the Portuguese
    to design 20 ft. long bronze canons
  • Originally called Ta Chiang Chun meaning great
  • Later renamed Fo Lang ChI or foreign weapons

  • The Ming were eventually defeated by the Manchu
    who came from the forest covered northwest
  • The Manchu built a capital just north of the
    Great Wall and formed the Ching or Pure
  • The Ching Dynasty was a period of extremely low
  • Under the third emperor book burnings became a
    common occurance
  • An open disrespect for European ways was shown

Peoples Republic of China
Peoples Republic of China
  • Eventually the Manchu rule weakened and China was
    carved up by merchants
  • Decades of civil war followed
  • In 1949 a communist dictatorship seized power
    forming the Peoples Republic of China

Chinese Invention
South Pointing Chariot
  • A two wheeled that carried a figure that always
    pointed South
  • Fabled to have been devised in 2800 BC and used
    by an army to cross a smoke screen
  • Was recreated many times in Chinas history
  • Eventually replaced by another Chinese invention,
    the magnetic compass

South Pointing Chariot
  • Said to have been used to help Vietnamese
    ambassadors get home
  • The South pointing chariot was reinvented twice,
    but neither was preserved due to turmoil
  • Once by Chang Heng between 78-139 AD
  • Again by Ma Chun before 300 AD
  • In 477 a man from Fanyang built a South Pointing
    Chariot that would automatically correct itself
    using pulleys and gears
  • This concept of a self correcting machine would
    later be seem in technology ranging from
    thermostats to missile guidance

Magnetic Compass
  • As with many Chinese inventions the magnetic
    compass was originally used as a novelty
  • The Chinese discovered that rubbing loadstone on
    an iron needle gave the needle magnetic
  • The magnetic compass was mentioned in a book as
    early as 300 BC and was said to aid in finding
    direction on land
  • In 1088 a Sung philosopher by the name of Shen
    Kwa noted that the magnetic compass always
    pointed slighty east
  • This show the level of attention Chinese
    scientist paid to even the smallest details

Magnetic Compass
  • The magnetic compass was originally a loadstone
    spoon but gradually became turtles and then fish
  • Around the time of Christ the compass underwent a
    vast transformation and became a needle supported
    by a single cocoon fiber of new silk and attached
    with a piece of wax
  • The magnetic compass was used extensively by
    practitioners of Feng-shui to map the veins of
    the earth

Magnetic Compass
  • Although the Chinese had limited interest in
    seafaring the first noted maritime use of the
    magnetic compass comes from 1115 AD in a book by
    Chu Yu
  • The compass made its way west one of two ways
  • By sea Persians, Arabs, or Indians
  • By land Mongolians
  • Europeans improved on the idea by adding a ring
    with intermediate directions
  • The compass enabled sailors to travel away from
    shore in any conditions opening up the world for

  • Carvings from as far back as 118 AD show Chinese
  • But the wheelbarrow is considered to be the work
    of General Chuko Liang in 231 AD
  • Used to supply an army
  • The wheelbarrow did not appear in Europe until
    the 12th or 13th century

  • Chinese designed placed the wheel in the center
    so the laborer bears no burden
  • Europeans may have copied the wheelbarrow from
    description and placed the wheel on the end
  • Unlike Europeans the Chinese did not think that a
    2 person cart was inefficient
  • When Europeans visited China they were surprised
    by the design of the Chinese wheelbarrow

  • Chinese also used animal and sail driven
  • The sail powered wheelbarrow or land yacht had
    rigging like a ship and was capable of speeds in
    excess of 30 mile per hour.
  • The sheer speed of these vehicles in a time when
    the next fastest mode of transportation was a
    horse impress the Europeans
  • Europeans built replicas of these machines, but
    never had the success of the Chinese, this
    garnered a newfound respect from the westerners

Contribution to Astronomy
  • Astronomy was so prevalent by the 13th century
    that Marco Polo observed over 5000 astrologers in
    Peking at the time
  • The ancient astronomers had no telescopes, but
    instead relied on sighting tubes to aid in the
    mapping of stars
  • The Chinese star charts were not only more
    complete, but predate the Greeks charts by 100
  • By AD 310 the Chinese had mapped 1,565 stars and
    283 constellations

Contribution to Flight
  • Early Builders of the Kite
  • A book from 255 BC speaks of a kite that took 3
    years to construct
  • First Kites were covered in silk
  • Kites were used in the 6th century as a distress
  • Pictures of kite flying as a pastime appear in
    the walls of caves
  • Chinese experimented with a second string and a
    shape resembling a sail

Contribution to Flight
  • Kites were used extensively in warfare
  • A story exists of a Han Dynasty general who used
    a kite to fly over the walls of a fortress to
    measure their thickness
  • Kites were used to spread propaganda in the war
    between the Jurchen and the Mongols
  • Marco Polo spoke of a kite with a wicker frame
    designed to carry a man

Contributions to Flight
  • The propeller is first described around 320 AD in
    a book by Ko Hung
  • He states Some have made flying cars with wood
    from the inner part of the jujube tree, using ox
    leather straps fastened to revolving blades so as
    to set the machine in motion
  • The chinese created a childrens toy called a
    bamboo dragonfly which was a precursor to the

Contributions to Flight
  • Chang Heng, builder of the South Pointing
    Chariot, built a wooden bird with wings and a
    drive mechanism in its belly that allowed it to
    fly nearly a mile
  • Chang declared in 126 AD that linked wheels may
    be made to turn of themselves, so that even an
    object of carved wood may be made to fly all
    alone in the air

  • Fireworks had definitely been invented by the
    time of Christ if not earlier
  • Originally charcoal and sulfur was placed into
    paper tubes, but the Chinese observed that the
    addition of salt caused a much brighter explosion
  • Saltpeter proved to be the best form
  • The best proportion seemed to be 4 parts
    saltpeter 1 charcoal 1 sulfur
  • And gunpowder was born

  • Gun powder first appeared in combat as a hand
    grenade around 1000 AD
  • The Sung used fire stones that were catapulted
    200 paces against the Jurchen barbarians
  • The Heaven-quaking Thunderer was used in 1232
    and was described as an iron vessel filled with

Works Cited
  • Silverberg, Robert. Wonders of Ancient Chinese
    Science. Hawthorn Books, Inc. New York, NY 1969.
  • Tsien, Tsuen-Hsuin. Written on Bamboo and Silk.
    University of Chicago Press. Chicago, IL 1962.
  • Ying-Hsing, Sung. Chinese Technology in the
    Seventeenth Century. Pennsylvania State
    University Press. University Park, PA 1966.
  • Ancient Dynasties. ry/ancient2.html Feb 02, 2004.
  • lFeb 12, 2004.
  • Chinese Dynasties. kers/dynasty.html March 03, 2004.
  • Maps. aps/Feb 12, 2004.