Chinese Industrial History

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A brief History of Chinese Industrial history and innovation.

Chinese Industrial History A short essay by James De Burghe

Well before China, as a united empire, came into existence the states that later made up that empire were developing technologies that were far advanced in comparison to the rest of the world. From 600 BC until 1600 AD it is fair to say that China remained hundreds of years in advance of the world in terms of weapons, metallurgy, sciences, medicine, manufacturing and related technologies.

The development of gearing allowed the transmission of vertical movement to horizontal movement and this led to the ability to build large-scale grain mills, power drop-hammers, blast furnaces, and accurate measuring devices fitted to carts that measured distance and led to accurate map-making.

The development of the blast furnace led to the development of advanced metallurgy the creation of alloys and the mass manufacture of weapons to a common standard. It allowed for the creation of strong and accurate tools which in turn could be used to create more inventions such as printing and engraving. It also allowed for the production of surgical instruments used by Chinese doctors including fine needles used in acupuncture.

As early as 240 BC the Chin Kingdom discovered how to plate bronze swords with Chromium which enabled them to be longer, stronger and sharper than the swords used by their opponents. This process was not mastered in the west until 1934. Examples of these swords excavated in Xi’an are still as sharp as the day they were buried and have not corroded at all.

The use of drop hammers allowed hard substances to be reduced to fine powder and this aided the discovery of chemicals that aided both medicine, ceremonial occasions and explosive weaponry.

Observation and experimentation led to the development of the silk industry, advanced astronomy, time keeping, porcelain production, cotton and wool weaving, the magnetic compass, and navigation tools for sea voyages.

Chemical experimentation led to the development of gunpowder in various forms and strengths that was used to power rockets, land mines, sea mines, hand held and heavy artillery that fired projectiles, as well as ornamental fireworks.

As early as 400 BC the Chinese had developed the crossbow and understood the value of laminating different woods together to increase strength and flexibility. By 100BC this weapon had been developed into many different variations for both long distance siege warfare and close-up infantry attacks. A repeating crossbow was developed for use by light infantry with a magazine of ten bolts. A heavy crossbow was developed that could fire an explosive charge at the walls of an enemy city from 800 metres away.

A Chinese scientist discovered that an inverted pendulum mounted in a container could accurately detect earthquakes hundreds of miles away and by the direction it leaned to indicate in which direction the earthquake had happened.

Chinese scientists and engineers discovered how to drill down through the earth to liberate supplies of oil and gas. They designed drilling rigs and drill bits that look entirely familiar to those techniques used in the west in the late 19th and early 20th century. The oils were subjected to crude cracking methods that produces kerosene, gasoline and a thick tar like residue. Oil and gas was carried from the rigs in pipelines of hollowed out bamboo sections joined together with metal flanges padded with wool that was soaked in tar. This in turn led to the development of limited and crude street lighting, improved oil lamps and the Flame thrower as a weapon of war. The flame thrower in its turn gave rise to pumps that could be used for fire fighting purposes in the cities.

Little by little these discoveries reached the rest of the world, some like the silk making were stolen, others by way of trade. Jesuit missionaries made it their business to learn, document, and pass to the west many Chinese technologies.

But it remains a fact that Chinese technology and science led the world for 1000 years and China was the most economically advanced country in the world until the decline that started in the 17th century.


Submitted: November 22, 2021

© Copyright 2021 JDB401. All rights reserved.

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