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The Four Great Inventions of Ancient China

The Four Great Inventions refer to the four inventions of ancient China which had an enormous impact on the development of Chinese civilization and a far-ranging global impact. They are the Compass, Gunpowder, Papermaking and Printing. This statement was presented by Dr.Joseph Needham (1900-1995), a British academic and sinologist known for his research and writing on the history of Chinese science.

The compass
The compass was invented in ancient China sometime before the 2nd century, and was used for navigation by the 11th century.

The gunpowder
The gunpowder was discovered in the 9th century by Chinese alchemists searching for an elixir of immortality. In the Zhenyuan miaodao yaolüe, a Taoist text tentatively dated to the mid-800s had mentioned how to make the gunpowder.

Papermaking can be traced back to China about 105 CE, when Cai Lun, an official attached to the Imperial court during the Han Dynasty (202 BCE-220 CE), created a sheet of paper using mulberry and other bast fibres along with fishnets, old rags, and hemp waste.

Printing was invented around 1040 AD by Bi Sheng (990-1051). The first printing system was made of baked clay and called movable type system in ancient China.

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