Ancient Chinese Contributions

Ancient Chinese Contributions

Inventions have always been part of the best things that have been brought and are still being brought into the world. Such inventions do simplify life and have a big impact in the modern world. The Chinese are among the most innovative people in history and are accredited with some of the most marvelous inventions (Deng & Wang, 2005). Among the most notable inventions of the Chinese include: paper, gunpowder, compass, alcohol, mechanical clock, wheel, fireworks, the umbrella and printing. Most of these inventions though in a more advanced manner are still being used today. Such inventions show how advanced China was technology wise, a step above the rest of the world.

Though most of these inventions are actually quite technical and useful to the day to day man, there are four which I feel to be easily identifiable with modern times. These include: compass, paper, gunpowder and printing. First and foremost gunpowder is what we would call the modern friend and foe to man. Initially the Chinese stumbled upon gunpowder as their alchemists were trying to look for a concoction that would ensure immortality (Bodde, n.d). Ironically, they found something that could take human life quite easily. In modern times the gunpowder has been made finer and enclosed in bullets. Many say that gunpowder and guns have led to security while some say it has led to insecurity with both arguments carrying water. However, it is undoubtedly a fact that the Chinese did come up with this invention and is of use to the modern day man.

Paper is another key invention that has can only be termed as priceless. Some of these things we do take for granted such as paper but in fact do make life simpler. Without paper there would be no books or even currency all of which are made from paper. The Chinese scientist, Lun Cai, produced the first paper from hemp and bamboo fibers which were first dissolved in water then dried to form paper (Deng & Wang, 2005). Such paper has from time to time been used to write ancient manuscripts and maps which are still in use today and an important part of history. It is also important to note that the Chinese are also accredited with the first paper currency in the world although developed from the paper first also developed in China. Further developments in paper inspired from the Chinese paper have been able to produce the paper we use today which is much lighter and easier to write on (Deng & Wang, 2005).

Following up on their discovery of paper, the Chinese went further to develop printing. This was in the form of wood block printing. The Chinese made symbol models which could be engraved into the paper. Though this form was time consuming, it laid the foundation for modern day printing. Europeans later took up the mantle in the field of printing by making smaller engravings which could be used together with ink to make up small but clear print (Ray, 2004). Today printing is almost everywhere in terms of newspapers, books, money, advertisements and much so everything that involves the written word. It is therefore quite important to recognize the Chinese for such an invaluable invention which has revolutionized the modern day world.

Last but not least is the compass. The compass was developed and has been used in various fields in the modern day world from exploration to astronomy. Ideally, the compass was made of a simple loadstone (magnetic material) that could be moved in accordance with the polarity of the world (Bodde, n.d). The Chinese used the compass to navigate their ships even when the stars which they previously relied on were not visible (Ray, 2004). The compass revolutionized navigation and exploration and is actually very user friendly. The modern day Boy Scout will be able to use it while also the surveyor or astronomer who is a professional will still use the compass. Such is the power of the compass as it helps in various fields such as division of land, planning and even location of unknown areas.

It is important to note that most of these inventions are quite invaluable. In my opinion, though considered simple, the invention of paper is actually the greatest invention I can accredit the Chinese with. Paper is in use everywhere from the most useful form in money to the most basic form of tissue paper. Paper is actually quite important to man and as stated above is priceless while still very useful to modern day man. In conclusion, it is quite evident that the Chinese are accredited with not only simple but also complex innovations that have revolutionized the world. The key four highlighted above have particularly had a great effect on almost everyone in the world and it would only be fair to say that the whole world is indebted to the Chinese for their inventions.


Deng, Y., & Wang, P. (2005). Ancient Chinese inventions: 3,000 years of science and technology. Beijing: China Intercontinental Press.

Bodde, P. D. (n.d.). Columbia University, East Asian Curriculum Project. Retrieved 2014, from

Ray, D. K. (2004). society for anlo-chinese understanding. Retrieved 2014, from