|One of the obscure secrets of history is the significant contribution of Chinese
technology to the Western world (or more precisely to the rest of the world).
Often the invention or discovery served a singular purpose, and the science was not explored, understood, nor developed.
Equally interesting, is the failure of some discoveries in China to cross over to other civilizations,
or even to survive into modern times. This basic chronology below outlines ideas implemented in China in some form,
and developed or adapted later in other civilizations.
Bibliography of references consulted.
|1.6 Million BC||Yuanmou Man||
Earliest human findings in China.
Stone tools and use of fire.
Human origins in Asia and Africa?
Peking Man (Zhoukoudian)
|Upper Cave Man|
|5,000 BCE||YangShao Culture||Farming villages in the Yellow River valleys, painted pottery.|
|2,500 BCE||LongShan Culture||
East China and Central River valleys.
Wheel-made pottery, divination and ancestral worship.
Lacquer, the first plastic (about 4th century BCE) - about 3000 years later developed process of "japanning"> in
|Three Rulers & Five Emperors||Mythical rulers, credited with inventing farming, building, medicine, silk culture.|
|Xia Dynasty||China's legendary first dynasty. Emperor Yu is credited with flood control and irrigation systems.|
First verifiable dynasty. Ritual bronze vessels and "oracle bones" calligraphy.
Evidence of a relatively sophisticated medical system using acupuncture
needles and medical observations.
Decimal place system
(14th century BCE) - 2300 years later in Western civilization
Western Zhou later cited as a
model period. Capital city near Xian. Confucius born in 551 BCE.
Flowering in classical literature, arts, and philosophy; Confucianism,
Taoism. Laozi and Zhuangzi lived around this period.
Internal alchemy, meditation, and breathing techniques developed.
6th century BCE
Row cultivation of crops and intensive hoeing -
2200 years later in Western civilization
5th century BCE
Spouting bowls and standing waves experimentation.
4th century BCE
The trace efficient horse harness -
500 years later in Western civilization
|Spring and Autumn|
|Qin Dynasty||Unification of China under Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Four State walls are joined to form the Great Wall. Palace and mausoleum near Xian, standardization of weights, measures, calligraphy. Emperor Qin Shi Huang creates burial pit city including thousands of full-size clay soldier statues (Terracotta warriors).|
Capitals at Changan and Luoyang rivals that of Rome. Buddhism enters China from India. Confucian civil service institutionalized.2nd century BCE
- 1400 years later in Western civilization
Zhang Qian journeyed to the Western Regions, pioneering the world-famous Silk Road.
Deep drilling for natural gas - 1900 years
later in the West
Water power - 1200 years later in the West
Later or Eastern Han
San Kuo (Three Kingdoms)
Wei, Shu-Han, Wu
Han generals divide empire. This period is romanticized as a time of
chivalry and heroism in later literature.
2nd century CE
Recognition of sunspots as solar
phenomena - 1300 years later in Western civilization
|265-317 CE||Western Chin (Jin)||China briefly united under one Emperor.
Capitals at Luoyang, Changan.
3rd century CE
Cybernetic machine (south facing
carriage) - 1600 years later
in Western civilization
Eastern Chin (Jin)
4th century CE
Umbrella - 1200 years later in Western civilization
|479-581 CE||Southern and Northern Dynasties||
5th century CE
Essentials of steam engine - 1200
years later in Western civilization
Succession of numerous dynasties, including 24 short-lived ones, on the north and south sides of the Yangtze. Developing period for Buddhism. Cave temples at Dunhuang, Yungang, and Longmen.
Bohidarma (TaMo) arrives in China. Zen Buddhism develops. Shaolin
Monastery built and Shaolin Kung Fu (wushu) flourishes.
|534-550||Eastern Wei||Turkic invaders from central Asia invade north; drive Xiongnu Mongols north and east into western Asia; establish Toba-Wei kingdom.|
|581-618 CE||Sui Dynasty||Golden Age of China
North conquers south and unites China. The Grand Canal is built. The
capital is established at Changan.
6th century CE
Discovery of the solar wind -
1400 years later in Western civilization
The Heavenly Khan
Scholarship and the Arts flourish.
Rudimentary Mechanical clock -
Some 500 years later in West (extended to true kinematic measurement)
|907-960||Five Dynasties (North) and Ten Kingdoms (South)||A period of war and fragmentation, as North and South divides into smaller kingdoms.|
Chain drive - 800 years later in the West
|1279-1368||Yuan Dynasty (Mongol)||Kublai Khan conquers China. A new capital is
established at Beijing and the Grand Canal is extended to
supply the capital. Marco Polo visits and ignites Sino-trade enthusiasm.
|1360||Zhang Sanfeng (Chang Sanfeng) travels to Wudang Mountains and is generally credited with inventing the 13 postures of Taijiquan (T'ai Chi Ch'uan).|
|1368-1644||Ming Dynasty||Mongols are defeated. Strong Emperors bring
about a prosperous era. Building of the Forbidden City and Imperial
Tombs. Arrival of Jesuits. Changan city changes its name to Xian.
Medicine and Health
|1644-1911||Qing Dynasty (Manchu)||Han People are subjugated by the Manchus. The neglected Forbidden City is restored and the Summer Palace is rebuilt.|
|1839-1842||Foreign trade pressures leads to the Opium War.|
|1850-1864||Taiping Rebellion in the south. Anti-Qing revolt is inspired by mixture of Chinese and Christian ideas.|
|1858-1860||Anglo-French invasions at Canton, Tianjin. Foreign troops destroy the Summer Palace near Peking.|
|1894-1895||Sino-Japanese War. Japan dominates Korea and Taiwan|
|1900||Anti-foreign Boxer Rebellion is suppressed by foreign troops. Qing court flees and Westerners occupy Peking.|
|1911 Revolution. China attempts democratic government.|
|1912||Sun Yat-Sen briefly serves as China's first president. Kuomintang (KMT) or Nationalist party is formed.|
|1916||Warlord period begins.|
|1921||Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is founded)|
|1926-1927||Joint KMT-CCP expedition against warlords has limited success, but causes a hostile division of the country.|
|1934-1935||Long march of the Communists to the northwest.|
|1937-1945||Second Sino-Japanese War. KMT is led by Chiang Kai-shek, joining with the CCP, led by Mao Tse Tung. American military aids during World War II. Japan surrenders.|
|1946-1949||Civil war erupts between the KMT and the CCP. KMT and millions of citizens flee China for Formosa (Taiwan), USA, Canada and other sanctuaries.|
|Mao Tse Tung leads the PRC as it turns inwards from the world.|
|1966-1976||Cultural Revolution, political campaign to rekindle revolutionary spirit.|
|1976-present||Evolution towards increase in democracy and capitalism.|
As I collect information and resources on Chinese invention and discovery, I would be happy to collaborate with other authors.
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