Paper, Printing press, Gun powder, Compass
As You know, Paper, Printing press, Gun powder and Compass, are the four important ancient Chinese inventions which brought important contributions to the progress of the universal civilization.
Just since the Shang dinasty (16-th century BC) in China appeared tortle shells and animal bones on which various signs were engraved . Later the chinese bookish men wrote hierogliphs on bamboo and wood plates or on silk fabrics. Only in 105 Year the inventor Chai Lun succeded in producing paper using as raw materials tree bark, hemp, rags, etc, by process technologies of cutting, mixing, boiling and drying . Up to 3-th century the paper sorts range was enlarged, the production increased and the raw materials were diversified . At the beginning of the 7-th century the technique of making paper spreaded to Coreea and Japan In the 8-th century said technique spreaded to The Arab world and after that in European countries. During the industrial revolution in Europe in the last part of the 19-th century the mechanized manufacturing of paper based upon wooden materials knew a rapid development, gradually replacing the old technology based on the manual labour .
The invetion of printing press is closely linked to paper. Up to inventing paper the drawing and writing had been engraved and multiplyied on stone plates and after the invention of paper they were engraved on wooden plates and typed with Chinese ink. The method was named „printing of engraving ”. Up to 8-th century this way of printing was very much used in China and spreaded to Coreea, Japan, Vietnam, Phillipines, Iran and to the African and European countries. After the 11-th century together with the development of the forces of production many improvements and inventions were achieved in the printing mode . The most important of them is the invention of Bi Sheng who created a new method of printing which based on galleys. According to historical documents, by Bi Sheng method firstly the characters were engraved on clay plates – each character on a little clay plate – which after passing the fire becomes something like a matter. For typing, a sheet of paper and wax is laid on an iron plate on which there are placed in arrays the galleys. After heating, the wax is melted and the signs adhere to the iron plate . That plate is thereafter multyplied like a sculptured plate. Out of this method Bi Sheng tried also the method of printing with wooden galleys which can be used more times increasing the books printing and difusing speed.
The invention of gun powder is probably the most famous chinese ancient discoveriy and the story tells that it would have been achieved incidentally by alchemists when they tried to create an Elixir of life.
Being an annex product in the process of preparing medicinal substances, the experts consider that the gun powder is closely linked to the method of preparing of panaceas in ancient China. In fact the gun powder is a mixture of sulfur, saltpetre and carbon, sulfur and saltpetre being important ingredients in traditional Chinese pharmacology. The gun powder itself take part of the category of medicamentous substances. The known work „” Medicinal herbs studies” by Li Shizhen notes that using the gun powder, a certain dermic disease may be cured and one can kill the insects and remove the moisture. The gun powder was used for military purposes only at the beginning of the 10-th century. On that time rudimentary guns already appeared. In 12-th and 13-th centuries the gun powder spreaded firstly to Arab countries and after that to European countries and to other parts of the world.
The invention of compass is also a great contribution of China to the universal civilization. In the 4-th century The Chinese already used the compass which was named Sinan. It was manufactured of a natural magnetic stone polished as a spoon. But Sinan had a less magnetic power.