The Four Great Inventions of Ancient China: Their Origin, Development, Spread and Influence in the World


Authors: Pan Jixing

Main Translator: Zhu Yue

Executive Editor: Yao Shuo

ISBN: 978-1-84464-542-8

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-84464-543-5

Hardback - 560 pages

June 2019


£65 €78 $98







This book, as a systematic and profound research of the origin, early development and outward spread of China’s four great inventions, papermaking, printing, gunpowder and compass, is written on the basis of investigation of the newest archaeological materials and textual research of Sino-foreign sources during the past three decades. It also talks about the role and influence of the four great inventions on the development of the world civilization. Apart from this, the scientific principles and the manufacture process of these inventions are approached, and new technical restoration of some utensils is also made. This book consists of 13 chapters with 305 illustrations. The contents in it are profound but easily to understand, materials cited are full and accurate, and reflect the newest results of research. This book, as a reference, is suitable to be read by scientists, technical personnel historians, teachers and students of high schools and universities. There is no book that did so systematic and profound research of the origin, early development and outward spread of China’s four great inventions.



Chapter 1 Invention, Development and Spread of China's Papermaking Technique 

1. 1    Origin of Papermaking in Light of Excavations of Paper Made in the Western Han Dynasty

1. 2    Papermaking Technology in the Wei, Jin, Northern and Southern Dynasties

1. 3   Papermaking Technology in the Sui and Tang Dynasties and Five Dynasties  

1. 4   Papermaking Technology in the Song and Yuan Dynasties and the Ming and Qing Dynasties   

1. 5    Spread of China's Papermaking Technique in Europe and America

Chapter 2 Invention, Development and Spread of China's Printing Technique 

2.1 Invention of Woodblock Printing and Copper Plate Printing

2. 2 Development of Block Printing from the Tang Dynasty to the Northern Song Dynasty

2. 3 Invention of Non-Metal Type Printing

2. 4 Invention of Metal Movable Type Printing 

2. 5 Spread of China's Printing Technique in Europe

Chapter 3 Invention, Development and Spread of China's Gunpowder   Technique    

3.1    Invention of Gunpowder and Early Firearms in China

3.2   Manufacture of Powdered Gunpowder of High Nitrate 

3. 3 Flame-Spurting Lance, Rocket and Bomb of Hard Shell in the Southern Song Dynasty

3. 4   Development of Gunpowder and Firearms During the Yuan and Ming Dynasties 

3. 5    Spread of China's Gunpowder Technique in Europe

Chapter 4 Invention, Development and Spread of China's Compass

4. 1   Ancient Methods for Direction Determination Before Compass Invention

4. 2    Invention of Sinanyi (South-Pointer), Predecessor of Compass

4. 3    Invention and Early Development of Compass 

4. 4   Application of Compass in Navigation

4. 5    Spread of China's Compass in Europe

Chapter 5 Influence of Paper and Printing on Development of World Civilization

5. 1   Promotive Role of Paper in Development of Culture in China and Foreign Countries 

5. 2   Influence of Printing on Development of World Civilization

5. 3    Effect Caused by Printing in the East and the West

Chapter 6 Influence of Gunpowder and Compass on Development of World Civilization  

6. 1   The Impact of Gunpowder and Firearms on Development of World Civilization 

6. 2   The Impact of Compass on Development of World Civilization


About Author:

Prof. Pan Jixing, born in July 1931,native of Beining City, Liaoning Province, China, graduated from College of Chemical Technology, Dalian University of Technology in 1954; did research in the history of science and the history of Sino-foreign scientific exchange during the past 50 years, now is the professor of the Institute for the History of Natural Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Corresponding Member of the International Academy for the History of Science (Paris) and the member of the National Group for Collation of Ancient Works; successively held the posts of: Bye Fellow of Robinson College,Cambridge University, UK, Visting Professor of College of Science and Arts, University of Pennsylvania(Philadelphia), USA and Research Institute for Humanistic Studies, Kyoto University, Japan, and the 9th Lecturer of the Neesima lectures, Doshisha University,Kyoto. Published books: History of Papermaking Technology in China, Papermaking and Printing Volume of the History of Science and Technology in China,A history of Movable Metal-Type Printing Technique in China, Collation,Explanation and Research of the Tiangong Kaiwu(Exploitation of the Works of Nature),Critical Biography of Song Yingxing,History of Rocket Technology in China, Scientific Exchange between China and Foreign Countries, Biography of Carl Schorlemmer, etc.; also published 187 papers in Chinese and foreign languages, chief-edited Collected Papers of Joseph Needham and others.



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