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Top Chinese inventions: All

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Oct 21 2010
1 Thyroid hormones to treat goiters: In 239 BC, Master Lu's Spring and Autumn Annals stated that where water is too light, people suffer widespread baldness and goiter. Temple (1986), 135.</ref> It was not until the 1860 that Gaspard Adolphe Chatin (1813–1901) linked goiter with the lack of iodine in soil and water; iodine was discovered in the thyroid gland in 1896 by Eugen Baumann, while thyroid extract was used to treat patients in 1890. Long before this the Tang Dynasty (618–907) physician Zhen Quan (d. 643 AD), in his Old and New Tried and Tested Prescriptions, stated that the thyroid glands taken from gelded rams were used to treat patients with goiter; the thyroid hormones could be swallowed in pill form (the body of the pill made from crushed jujube pulp) or as a solid thyroid gland with the fat taken off. Temple (1986), 133–134.</ref> Another prescription by Wang Xi used air-dried glands ground into powder and taken with wine. Zhen's contemporary Cui Zhiti (fl. 650 AD) distinguished in his written work between a tumor, which he described as an incurbale solid neck swelling, and a real goiter, which he described as curable and movable in the neck. Temple (1986), 134.</ref> The Chinese also used the thyroid glands of pigs, water buffalo, and sika deer with success in treating goiter. The Pharmacopoeia of the Heavenly Husbandman asserted that iodine-rich sargassum was used to treat goiter by the 1st century BC (Ge Hong, 284–364, also suggested using a tincture derived from sargassum seaweed in about 340 AD), Medvei (1993), 48.</ref> a treatment unknown in the West until Roger of Palermo wrote his Practica Chirurgiae in 1180 AD. Temple (1986), 134–135</ref> 12874
2 Salt, use of: The earliest salt use is argued to have taken place on Lake Yuncheng, Shanxi by 6000 BC. Strong archaeological evidence of salt making dating to 2000 BC is found in the ruins of Zhongba at Chongqing. The historical records show that salt and iron monopolies often provided the bulk of state revenue, and remained important to state finance until the 20th century. The Discourse on Salt and Iron, written by Huan Kuan during the 1st century BC relates a debate on the state monopoly over salt and iron production and distribution. 10268
3 Rice, cultivation of: In 2002, a Chinese and Japanese group reported the discovery in eastern China of fossilized phytoliths of domesticated rice apparently dating back to 11,900 BC or earlier. However, phytolith data are controversial in some quarters due to potential contamination problems. It is likely that demonstrated rice was cultivated in the middle Yangtze Valley by 7000 BC, as shown in finds from the Pengtoushan culture at Bashidang, Changde, Hunan. By 5000 BC, rice had been domesticated at Hemudu culture near the Yangtze Delta and was being cooked in pots. Although millet remained the main crop in northern China throughout history, several sporadic attempts were made by the state to introduce rice around the Bohai Gulf as early as 1st century. At present, rice remains the main diet in southern and northeastern China as well as Korea and Japan. 9556
4 Tea: The tea plant is indigenous to western Yunnan; by the mid 2nd millennium BC, tea was being consumed in Yunnan for medicinal purposes. It was introduced from Sichuan to the population of northern China and middle and lower Yangtze River around the 2nd century BC. Tea drinking was already an established custom in the daily life in this area as shown by the Contract with a Slave, written by Wang Bao in 59 BC. This written record also reveals that tea, used as a drink instead of a medicinal herb, emerged no later than the 1st century BC. Early Chinese tea culture began from the time of Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD) to the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420–589) when tea was widely used by Chinese gentry, but only took its initial shape during the Tang Dynasty (618–907). Utensil like handle-less tea bowl which first appeared in the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317–420), became popular among the tea drinkers of Tang. The first book about tea was written by Lu Yu (733–804) in his The Classic of Tea. 9250
5 Natural gas as fuel: Robert Temple asserts that the 4th century BC (Warring States Period) is a conservative estimate for the time in which the Chinese began using natural gas as fuel and light. He states that systematic borehole drilling for brine extraction by the 1st century BC (Han Dynasty) led to the discovery of many "fire wells" in Sichuan which yielded natural gas. As recorded in the 2nd century AD, this led to a systematic search for natural gas. Both brine and natural gas were piped through bamboo tubes; from small boreholes the gas could be piped directly to burners where the brine was emptied into cast iron evaporation pans for boiling and producing salt, but the pungent gas piped from depths of some had to be first mixed with air lest an explosion occur. To remedy this, the Chinese piped the gas first into a large wooden, cone-shaped chamber placed 3 m (10 ft) below ground level where another pipe could convey air, thus turning the chamber into a large carburetor. To avoid fires from a sudden surplus of gas, an additional "sky thrusting pipe" was used as an exhaust system. Temple (1986), 79.</ref> 9217
6 Archaeology, catalogues and epigraphy: During the Song Dynasty (960–1279), the scholar Ouyang Xiu (1007–1072) analyzed alleged ancient artifacts bearing archaic inscriptions in bronze and stone, which he preserved in a collection of some 400 rubbings; Clunas (2004), 95.</ref> Patricia Ebrey writes that he pioneered early ideas in epigraphy. The Kaogutu (考古圖) or "Illustrated Catalogue of Examined Antiquity" (preface dated 1092) compiled by Lü Dalin (呂大臨) (1046–1092) is one of the oldest known catalogues to systematically describe and classify ancient artifacts which were unearthed; it featured in writing and illustrations an assortment of 210 bronze items and 13 jade items of government and private collections that dated to the Shang (c. 1600–c. 1050 BC) to Han (202 BC–220 AD) dynasties. Another catalogue was the Chong xiu Xuanhe bogutu (重修宣和博古圖) or "Revised Illustrated Catalogue of Xuanhe Profoundly Learned Antiquity" (compiled from 1111 to 1125), commissioned by Emperor Huizong of Song (r. 1100–1125), and also featured illustrations of some 840 vessels and rubbings. This catalogue was criticized by Hong Mai (洪迈) (1123–1202), who found that descriptions of certain ancient vessels dating to the Han Dynasty were incorrect when he compared them to actual Han Dynasty specimens he obtained for study. Rudolph (1963), 171.</ref> Song scholars established a formal system of dating these artifacts by examining their inscriptions, decorative motif styles, and physical shapes. Zhao Mingcheng (趙明誠) (1081–1129) stressed the importance of utilizing ancient inscriptions to correct discrepancies and errors in later texts discussing ancient events, such as with dates, geographical locations of historical events, genealogies, and official titles. Trigger (2006), 74.</ref> Rudolph (1963), 170.</ref> Ancient inscriptions on vessels were also used to revive ancient rituals for use in ceremonies. Fraser & Haber (1986), 227.</ref> Instead of stressing the revival of ancient rituals, Shen Kuo (1031–1095) was more interested in discovering ancient manufacturing techniques and functionality. Unlike many of his peers who attributed the crafting of ancient ritual vessels to sages of old, Shen asserted that they were merely products of ancient artisans, just like in his time. Shen also incorporated his study of ancient relics into other disciplines, such as music, mathematics, and optics. Shen examined carved reliefs of the Zhuwei Tomb and concluded that they displayed Han Dynasty era clothing. Shen unearthed a surveying tool in a garden of Jiangsu which Joseph Needham asserts was Jacob's staff. Bruce G. Trigger writes that interests in antiquarian studies of ancient inscriptions and artifacts waned after the Song Dynasty, but were revived by early Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) scholars such as Gu Yanwu (1613–1682) and Yan Ruoju (1636–1704). Trigger (2006), 74–75.</ref> Craig Clunas also states that epigraphic studies weren't revived until the Qing Dynasty, but that printed copies of the Chong xiu Xuanhe bogutu were widely circulated in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). Trigger asserts that archaeology as a discipline of its own never developed in China and was always considered a branch of historiography instead. 8842
7 Chromium, use of: The use of chromium was invented in China no later than 210 BC, the date when the Terracotta Army was interred at a site not far from modern Xi'an; modern archaeologists discovered that bronze-tipped crossbow bolts at the site showed no sign of corrosion after more than 2,000 years of being interred, the reason being that the Chinese had coated the bronze tips of their crossbow bolts in chromium; chromium was not used anywhere else until the experiments of Louis Nicolas Vauquelin (1763–1829) in 1797–1798. 7740
8 Soybean, cultivation of: The cultivation of soybeans began in the eastern half of northern China by 2000 BC, but is almost certainly much older. Liu et al. (1997) stated that soybean was first originated in China and was domesticated about 3500 BC. By the 5th century, soybeans were being cultivated in much of eastern Asia, but the crop did not move beyond this region until well into the 20th century. Written records of the cultivation and use of the soybean in China date back at least as far as the Western Zhou Dynasty. 7465
9 Playing cards: The first reference to the card game in world history dates no later than the 9th century, when the Collection of Miscellanea at Duyang, written by Su E (fl. 880), described the Wei clan (family of Princess Tongchang's husband) of the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD) enjoying the "leaf game" in 868. Needham (1986), Volume 5, Part 1, 131–132.</ref> Zhou (1997), 34.</ref> The Yezi Gexi was a book on the card came which was allegedly written by a Tang woman and commented on by Chinese scholars in subsequent dynasties. Needham (1986), Volume 5, Part 1, 132.</ref> In his Notes After Retirement, the Song Dynasty (960–1279) scholar Ouyang Xiu (1007–1072) asserted that playing card games existed since the mid Tang Dynasty and associated this invention with the simultaneous evolution of the common Chinese writing medium from paper rolls to sheets of paper that could be printed. Temple (1986), 116.</ref> During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), characters from popular novels such as the Water Margin were widely featured on the faces of playing cards. By the 11th century playing cards could be found throughout the Asian continent. Needham (1986), Volume 5, Part 1, 309.</ref> Playing cards were some of the first printed materials in Europe, appearing by the 14th century (i.e. in Spain and Germany in 1377, in Italy and Belgium in 1379, and in France in 1381) and produced by European woodblock printing before the innovation of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1400–1468). Temple (1986), 116–117.</ref> 6952
10 Acupuncture: Acupuncture, the traditional Chinese medicinal practice of inserting needles into specific points of the body for therapeutic purposes and relieving pain, was first mentioned in the Huangdi Neijing compiled from the 3rd to 2nd centuries BC (Warring States Period to Han Dynasty). Omura (2003), 15.</ref> The oldest known acupuncture needles made of gold, found in the tomb of Liu Sheng (d. 113 BC), date to the Western Han (202 BC–9 AD); the oldest known stone-carved depiction of acupuncture was made during the Eastern Han (25–220 AD); the oldest known bronze statue of an acupuncture mannequin dates to 1027 during the Song Dynasty (960–1279). Acupuncture is still used to treat pediatric nocturnal enuresis, i.e. bedwetting. 6796
11 Endocrinology, isolation of sex and pituitary hormones from urine: In 1110, a Chinese medical text specified the use of gypsum (containing calcium sulfate) as well as saponin from the beans of Gleditschia sinensis to extract hormones from urine, a process of using natural soaps which was not discovered elsewhere until the use of digitonin by Adolf Windaus (1876–1959) in 1909. Temple (1986), 128–129.</ref> In 1927, Selmar Ascheim (1878–1965) and Bernhard Zondek (1891–1966) discovered that urine of pregnant women had a high concentration of steroid sex hormones; a subsequent discovery was made that urine contained sex hormones of androgens and estrogens, as well as the pituitary hormone gonadotrophin. Temple (1986), 127.</ref> In modern medicine, the extraction of these hormones from urine is a standard practice, yet centuries before this the Chinese had used it to treat hypogonadism, impotence, spermatorrhea, dysmenorrhea, leukorrhea, and even stimulating the growth of beards (since they knew that castration resulted in the loss of ability to grow a beard). 6661
12 Crossbow, handheld: The earliest reliable date for the crossbow in the Greek world is from the 5th century BC. The historian Diodorus Siculus (fl. 1st century BC), described the invention of a mechanical arrow firing catapult (katapeltikon) by a Greek task force in 399 BC. Duncan Campbell: Greek and Roman Artillery 399 BC-AD 363, Osprey Publishing, Oxford 2003, ISBN 1841766348, p.3</ref> In China, bronze crossbow bolts dating as early as mid 5th century BC were found at a State of Chu burial site in Yutaishan, Hubei. The earliest handheld crossbow stocks with bronze trigger, dating from the 6th century BC, comes from Tomb 3 and 12 found at Qufu, Shandong, capital of the State of Lu. You (1994), 80.</ref> Other early finds of crossbows were discovered in Tomb 138 at Saobatang, Hunan dated to mid 4th century BC. Repeating crossbows, first mentioned in the Records of the Three Kingdoms, were discovered in 1986 in Tomb 47 at Qinjiazui, Hubei dated to around 4th century BC. The earliest textual evidence of the handheld crossbow used in battle dates to the 4th century BC. Wright (2001), 42.</ref> Handheld crossbows with complex bronze trigger mechanisms have also been found with the Terracotta Army in the tomb of Qin Shihuang (r. 221–210 BC) that are similar to specimens from the subsequent Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD), while crossbowmen described in the Han Dynasty learned drill formations, some were even mounted as cavalry units, and Han Dynasty writers attributed the success of numerous battles against the Xiongnu to massed crossbow fire. Chao Cuo (d. 154 BC) wrote a memorial to the throne in 169 BC which included his assertion that the Chinese crossbow was superior to the Xiongnu bow. In a cross comparison with a contemporary civilization which created an early crossbow, the ancient Greeks had a crossbow known as the gastraphetes ("belly-bow", so named because the shooter had to draw the bow by pressing his stomach against the concave rear), which was described in Heron's Belopoeica (1st century AD), yet some scholars assert that the handheld crossbow (as invented in China) was not seen in Europe until the 10th century AD. Unlike the Chinese crossbow, the heavy weight and bulk of the gastraphetes necessitated a prop to keep it standing, i.e. by mounting it on a defensive wall or using a portable prop. 6005
13 Tofu: Although both popular tradition and Song-dynasty (960–1279 AD) scholars like Zhu Xi (1130–1200 AD) credit the invention of tofu—along with soymilk— to Liu An (179–122 BC), a Han-Dynasty King of Huainan, no mention of tofu is found in the extant Huainanzi (compiled under Liu An). Shurtleff & Aoyagi (2001), 92.</ref> Liu (1999), 166.</ref> Yang (2004), 217–218.</ref> Attempts to show on the basis of tomb reliefs and excavated objects that tofu already existed in the Han Dynasty are still not entirely convincing. The earliest known mention of tofu was made in Records of the Extraordinary (Qingyi lu 清異錄), which reported that tofu was sold at Qingyang (Anhui). Sun Ji (1998) argues that although this book is attributed to Tao Gu (陶穀, 903–970 AD), it was probably compiled by someone else early in the northern Song dynasty. The earliest explanation of how to make tofu is found in the Bencao Gangmu, written by Li Shizhen (1518–1593). According to Shurtleff and Aoyagi (2001), modern historians suppose that Liu An's tofu, like modern tofu, was made to coagulate with either seawater or nigari, the latter of which is called lushui (卤水) in Chinese. According to Liu Keshun (1999), Liu An's process for making tofu was essentially the same as today: "Basically, soybeans are washed, soaked, and ground with water. The slurry is then filtered to make raw soymilk. The milk is heated before a coagulant is added to form a curd. The curd is finally pressed to separate whey from tofu." 5394
14 Flamethrower, double piston and gunpowder-activated: Although the single piston flamethrower was first developed in the Byzantine Empire during the 7th century, the 10th century Chinese flamethrower, or Pen Huo Qi, boasted a continuous stream of flame by employing double piston syringes (which had been known since the Han Dynasty) spouting Greek fire which had been imported from China's maritime trade contacts in the Middle East. Its first use in battle was in 932 during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (907–960), and its first drawn illustration is found in the early Song Dynasty (960–1279) military manuscript Wujing Zongyao of 1044, which also described the device in full. Needham (1986), Volume 5, Part 7, 81–84.</ref> Unlike the Greek model which employed a furnace, the Pen Huo Qi was ignited by an incendiary gunpowder fuse. 5383
15 Drum, alligator hide: Drums (made from clay) have been found over a broad area at the Neolithic sites from modern Shandong in the east to Qinghai in the west, dating to a period of 5500–2350 BC. In literary records, drums manifested shamanistic characteristics and were often used in ritual ceremonies. Drums covered with alligator skin for ceremonial use are mentioned in the Shijing. During the archaic period, alligators probably lived along the east coast of China, including southern Shandong. The earliest alligator drums, comprising a wooden frame covered with alligator skin are found in the archaeological sites at Dawenkou (4100 BC–2600 BC), as well as several sites of Longshan (3000 BC–2000 BC) in Shandong and Taosi (2300 BC–1900 BC) in southern Shanxi. 5055
16 High-alcohol Beer: Ordinary beer in the ancient world, from Babylonia to Ancient Egypt, had an alcoholic content of 4% to 5%, while no beer in the West reached an alcohol content above 11% until the 12th century, when distilled alcohol was made in Italy. Ordinary beer was consumed in China during the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600–c. 1050 BC) and was even mentioned on Shang oracle bone inscriptions as offerings to spirits during sacrifices. Temple (1986), 77.</ref> Robert Temple writes: "The major problem with ordinary beer is that the starch in grain cannot be fermented. Thousands of years ago, it was found that sprouting grain contains a substance (the enzyme now known as amylase) which degrades the starch of grain into sugars which can then be fermented. This was the basis of ancient beer around the world." Yet, around 1000 BC the Chinese created an alcoholic beverage which was stronger than 11%, a new drink which was mentioned in poetry throughout the Zhou Dynasty (c. 1050–256 BC). The new process created xiao mi jiu (小米酒), which Temple describes: "This consisted of ground, partially cooked wheat (or occasionally millet) grains which had been allowed to go mouldy. These molds produce the starch-digestive enzyme amylase more efficiently than does sprouting grain. [link] therefore was a mixture of molds plus yeast. The Chinese would mix it with cooked grain in water, which resulted in beer. The amylase broke the starch down into sugar and the yeast fermented this into alcohol." The Chinese discovered that adding more cooked grain in water during fermentation increased alcohol content. Temple (1986), 78.</ref> This process is the same one that later Japanese utilized to make sake, or Nihonshu 日本酒. 4711
17 Silk: The oldest silk found in China comes from the Chinese Neolithic period and is dated to about 3630 BC, found in Henan province. Schoeser (2007), 17.</ref> Silk items excavated from the Liangzhu culture site at Qianshanyang, Wuxing District, Zhejiang date to roughly 2570 BC, and include silk threads, a braided silk belt, and a piece of woven silk. A bronze fragment found at the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600–c. 1050 BC) site at Anyang (or Yinxu) contains the first known written reference to silk. 4663
18 Animal zodiac: The earliest and most complete version of the animal zodiac mentions twelve animals which differ slightly (for instance, the dragon is absent, represented by a worm). Each animal matches the earthly branches and were written on bamboo slips from Shuihudi, dated to the late 4th century BC, Loewe (1999), 847.</ref> as well as from Fangmatan, dating to the late 3rd century BC. Before these archaeological finds, the Lunheng written by Wang Chong (27–c. 100 AD) during the 1st century provided the earliest transmitted example of a complete duodenary animal cycle. 4603
19 Mahjong: Jelte Rep writes that the gambling game of mahjong (Traditional Chinese: 麻將; Pinyin: májiàng), which employs a set of over a hundred tiles, was first invented in 1846 by Zhen Yumen, a Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) diplomatic official from Ningbo. Rep (2007), 52.</ref> However, Rep traces the origins of the game to a card game of the Tang Dynasty (618–907) which used thirty-two wood or ivory pieces in the shape of cards. Rep (2007), 51.</ref> This evolved into the forty-card game of madiao (馬吊) during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), which had four suits of cards instead of the three found in modern mahjong. 4516
20 Fireworks: Fireworks first appeared in China during the Song Dynasty (960–1279), in the early age of gunpowder. The common people in the Song era could purchase simple fireworks from market vendors; these were made of sticks of bamboo packed with gunpowder, although grander displays were known to be held. In 1110, a large fireworks display in a martial demonstration was held to entertain Emperor Huizong (r. 1100–1125) and his court, accompanied by dancers moving through colored smoke. In 1264, Empress Dowager Gong Sheng became frightened during a feast held in her honor (by her son Emperor Lizong) when a fast rocket-propelled "ground rat" was lit off. Crosby (2002), 100–103.</ref> Rocket propulsion was soon applied to warfare, and by the time of the mid 14th century there were many types of rocket launchers available. 4062
21 Calendar year at 365.2425 days: In the late Spring and Autumn Period (722–481 BC), the former Sifen calendar (古四分历) was established, and set the tropical year at 365.25 days, the same length as the Julian calendar which was introduced in 46 BC. Deng (2005), 67.</ref> The Taichu calendar (太初历) of 104 BC under Emperor Wu of Han rendered the tropical year at roughly the same (365 <math>\tfrac{385}{1539}</math>). Many other calendars were established between then and the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368), including those established by Li Chunfeng (602–670) and Yi Xing (683–727). In 1281, the Yuan astronomer Guo Shoujing (1233–1316) fixed the calendar at 365.2425 days, the same as the Gregorian calendar established in 1582; this calendar, the Shoushi calendar (授時曆), would be used in China for the next 363 years. Guo Shoujing established the new calendar with the aid of his own achievements in spherical trigonometry, which he derived largely from the work of Shen Kuo (1031–1095) who established trigonometry in China. 3928
22 Traction trebuchet catapult: The earliest type of trebuchet catapult was the traction trebuchet, developed first in China by the 5th or 4th century BC, the beginning of the Warring States Period (403–221 BC); to operate the trebuchet, a team of men pulled on ropes attached to the butt of the shorter segment of a long wooden beam separated by a rotating axle fixed to a base framework, allowing the longer segment of the beam to lunge forward and use its sling to hurl a missile; by the 9th century a hybrid of the traction and counterweight trebuchet, employing manpower and a pivoting weight, was used in the Middle East, Mediterranean Basin, and Northern Europe; by the 12th century, the full fledged counterweight trebuchet was developed under the Ayyubid dynasty of Islamic Syria and Egypt (described by Mardi bin Ali al-Tarsusi) and used in the Third Crusade; by the 13th century, the counterweight trebuchet found its way into Song Dynasty (960–1279) China via the Mongol invaders under Kublai Khan (r. 1260–1294) who used it in the Siege of Xiangyang (1267–1273). 3895
23 Kite: As written in the Mozi, the philosopher, artisan, and engineer Lu Ban (fl. 5th century BC) from the State of Lu created a wooden bird that remained flying in the air for three days, essentially a kite; there is written evidence that kites were used as rescue signals when the city of Nanjing was besieged by Hou Jing (died 552) during the reign of Emperor Wu of Liang (r. 502–549), while similar accounts of kites used for military signalling are found in the Tang (618–907) and Jin (1115–1234) dynasties; kite flying as a pastime can be seen in painted murals of Dunhuang dating to the Northern Wei (386–534) period, while descriptions of flying kites as a pastime have been found in Song (960–1279) and Ming (1368–1644) texts. 3464
24 Cast iron: Confirmed by archaeological evidence, cast iron, made from melting pig iron, was developed in China by the early 5th century BC during the Zhou Dynasty (1122–256 BC), the oldest specimens found in a tomb of Luhe County in Jiangsu province; despite this, most of the early blast furnaces and cupola furnaces discovered in China date after the state iron monopoly under Emperor Wu (r. 141–87 BC) was established in 117 BC, during the Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD); Donald Wagner states that a possible reason why no ancient Chinese bloomery process has been discovered thus far is because the iron monopoly, which lasted until the 1st century AD when it was abolished for private entrepreneurship and local administrative use, wiped out any need for continuing the less-efficient bloomery process that continued in use in other parts of the world. Wagner (2001), 7, 36–37, 64–68.</ref> Pigott (1999), 177.</ref> Wagner states that most iron tools in ancient China were made of cast iron in consideration of the low economic burden of producing cast iron, whereas most iron military weapons were made of more costly wrought iron and steel, signifying that "high performance was essential" and preferred for the latter. 3329
25 Chemical warfare using bellows, mustard smoke, and lime: As written in the 4th century BC by the Mohists, followers of the philosophy of Mozi (c. 470–c. 391 BC), the Chinese of the Warring States Period (403–221 BC) applied the use of burnt balls of the mustard plant (not to be confused with modern sulfur mustard, or 'mustard gas') as a lethal agent in warfare. Temple (1986), 215.</ref> During a siege, the besieging force would often dig mines under the walls to breach the fortifications of the defenders. As written by the Mohists, the defenders also had the option of digging to meet the enemy's underground tunnel, where bellows connected to furnaces above could be used to pump toxic smoke of burnt mustard and other vegetable material into the shafts. To fight off a peasant revolt in 178 AD during the late Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD), riding charioteers of the Imperial forces used portable bellows to pump lime smoke at the enemy, who were ultimately defeated. Temple (1986), 217.</ref> Powdered lime was also used in lobbed tear gas bombs, such as when the Song Dynasty (960–1279) general Yue Fei (1103–1142) used them with great success against the bandit leader Yang Yao in 1135; when the lime formed a thick fog in the air, Yang's "rebel soldiers could not open their eyes" according to the account of his campaign. 3256
26 Millet, cultivation of: The discovery in northern China of domesticated varieties of broomcorn and foxtail millet from 8500 BC, or earlier, suggests that millet cultivation might have predated that of rice in parts of Asia. Clear evidence of millet began to cultivate by 6500 BC at sites of Cishan, Peiligang, and Jiahu. Archaeological remains from Cishan sum up to over 300 storeage pits, 80 with millet remains, with a total millet storage capacity estimated for the site of about 100,000 kg of grain. By 4000 BC, most Yangshao areas were using an intensive form of foxtail millet cultivation, complete with storage pits and finely prepared tools for digging and harvesting the crop. The success of the early Chinese millet farmers is still reflected today in the DNA of many east Asian populations, such studies have shown that the ancestors of those farmers probably arrived in the area between 30,000 and 20,000 BP, and their bacterial haplotypes are still found in today populations throughout eastern Asia. 3207
27 Pinhole camera: The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC) observed that the spaces between the leaves of trees acted as tiny pinholes which cast the image of a partial solar eclipse onto the ground. Clee (2005), 6.</ref> He also used a metal plate with a small pinhole to project an image of a solar eclipse onto the ground. The ancient Chinese philosopher Mozi (c. 470 BC–c. 391 BC)—founder of Mohism during the establishment of the Hundred Schools of Thought—lived just before the time of Aristotle and it was in his Mojing (perhaps compiled by his disciples) that a pinhole camera was described. Needham (1986), Volume 4, Part 1, 82.</ref> The Mojing stated that the "collecting place" (pinhole) was an empty hole "like the sun and moon depicted on the imperial flags," where an image could be inverted at an intersecting point which "affects the size of the image." The Mojing seems to be in line with the Epicurean theory of light traveling into the eye (and not vice versa like in Pythagoreanism), Needham (1986), Volume 4, Part 1, 85.</ref> since the Mojing states that the reflected light shining forth from an "illuminated person" becomes inverted when passing through the pinhole, i.e. "The bottom part of the man becomes the top part (of the image) and the top part of the man becomes the bottom part (of the image)." In his Book of Optics (1021), Ibn al-Haytham (965–1039) wrote of his experimentation with camera obscura, which was followed by Shen Kuo (1031–1095), the latter who alluded that the Tang Dynasty (618–907) author Duan Chengshi (died 863)—in his Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang—described inverted images of Chinese pagodas. 3170
28 Porcelain: Although glazed ceramics existed beforehand, S.A.M. Adshead writes that the earliest type of vitrified, translucent ceramics that could be classified as true porcelain was not made until the Tang Dynasty (618–907). Nigel Wood states that true porcelain was manufactured in North China from roughly the beginning of the Tang Dynasty in the 7th century, while true porcelain was not manufactured in South China until about 300 years later, during the early 10th century. 3131
29 Maglev wind power generators: In 2006, a new type of wind power generator employing magnetic levitation (maglev) was showcased at the Wind Power Asia Exhibition in Beijing. Xinhua News Agency (October 5, 2007). [link]. Retrieved on 2008-08-10.</ref> People's Daily. (July 2, 2006). [link]. Retrieved on 2008-08-10.</ref> Li Guokun was the chief scientific developer of the new maglev wind power generator, in collaboration with the Guangzhou Energy Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Zhongke Hengyuan Energy Technology Company based in Guangzhou. Li Guokun states that traditional wind turbines need high wind speeds to start, due to friction caused by their bearings. The new frictionless maglev wind generator requires wind speeds of only 1.5 m per second (or 5 km an hour) to start and are expected to cut operational costs for wind farms by half, i.e. overall cost of roughly 0.4 Chinese yuan per kilowatt hour. 2842
30 Automatic opening doors, foot-activated trigger: Emperor Yang (r. 604–617) of the Sui Dynasty (581–618) had a private library installed in the Guanwen Hall of the palace at the capital of Daxing (modern Xi'an), having a total of fourteen studies with luxurious apparel and furniture. Needham (1986), Volume 4, Part 2, 162.</ref> At every third study there was a square door with curtains suspended above it as well as two figurine statues of flying immortals. In the emperor's entourage were serving maids holding "perfume burners"; as he walked towards any of these entrances, they would walk in front of him and press their feet down on a trigger mechanism which not only caused the flying immortals to sweep down and pull the curtains out of the way, but made the door-halves swing backwards and opened all the cabinet doors to the book cases within the study. When the emperor exited the study, the trigger was activated again and everything returned to its closed original state. The Chinese were not the first to invent automatic opening doors, which were invented for a 1st century Roman temple designed by Heron of Alexandria (c. 10–70 AD), although his did not involve a foot-activated trigger mechanism, but worked with the aid of steam power. 2817
31 Coke as fuel: By the 11th century, during the Song Dynasty (960–1279), the demands for charcoal used in the blast and cupola furnaces of the iron industry led to large amounts of deforestation of prime timberland; to avoid excessive deforestation, the Song Chinese began using coke made from bituminous coal as fuel for their metallurgic furnaces instead of charcoal derived from wood. Ebrey, Walthall, and Palais (2006), 158.</ref> Ebrey (1999), 144.</ref> Hobson (2004), 53.</ref> 2805
32 Banknote: Paper currency was first developed in China. Its roots were in merchant receipts of deposit during the Tang Dynasty (618–907), as merchants and wholesalers desired to avoid the heavy bulk of copper coinage in large commercial transactions. Bowman (2000), 105.</ref> Gernet (1962), 80.</ref> During the Song Dynasty (960–1279), the central government adopted this system for their monopolized salt industry, but a gradual reduction in copper production—due to closed mines and an enormous outflow of Song-minted copper currency into the Japanese, Southeast Asian, Western Xia, and Liao Dynasty economies—encouraged the Song government in the early 12th century to issue government-printed paper currency alongside copper to ease the demand on their state mints and debase the value of copper. In the early 11th century, the Song Dynasty government authorized sixteen private banks to issue notes of exchange in Sichuan, but in 1023 the government commandeered this enterprise and set up an agency to supervise the manufacture of banknotes there. Temple (1986), 117.</ref> The earliest paper currency was limited to certain regions and could not be used outside specified bounds, but once paper was securely backed by gold and silver stores, the Song Dynasty government initiated a nationwide paper currency, between 1265 and 1274. The concurrent Jin Dynasty (1115–1234) also printed paper banknotes by at least 1214. 2531


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