5th Hour: Zwicki



5000 B.C.

We know that the Chinese grew rice as long as 5000 BC Archaeologists have found rice grains in farming tools and pots from that period.


2600 B.C.

A complete cycle of the Chinese calendar takes 60 years. The Chinese calendar dates back to 2600 B.C. It is the oldest known calendar.

ice cream

2000 B.C.

ice cream was invented in 2000 bc when the chinease packed soft milk and rice mixture in the snow.

Shang Dynasty

1766 bc - 1050 bc

Zhou Dynasty

1050 B.C. - 256 bc

Qin dynasty

256 B.C. - 206 bc

warrior states

255 B.C. - 222 B.C.

Han dynasty

206 B.C. - 220 A.D.


100 A.D.

The Chinese developed the abacus, a counting device, around 100 AD. By the 1300's it was perfected and given the form it still has today. The instrument consisted of a rectangular wooden frame with parallel rods. Each rod holds beads as counters. The rods are separated into upper and lower parts by a crossbar. Each bead above the crosspiece is worth five units, and each below is worth one. The rungs or rods from right to left indicate place value in powers of ten -- ones, tens, hundred, and so on.

With this instrument the Chinese could add, subtract, multiply and divide with remarkable speed. The abacus became the basic calculating device in Asia, where it is still widely used.


200 A.D.

Around 200 AD, Chinese scientists discovered that an explosive mixture could be produced by combining sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter (potassium nitrate). The explosive mixture, called huoyao, was used by the military in the 900's during the Tang Dynasty. Imagine their enemy's surprise when the Chinese first demonstrated their newest invention. New weapons were rapidly developed, including rockets that were launched from a bamboo tube. The Chinese began experimenting with the gunpowder filled tubes. At some point, they attached bamboo tubes to arrows and launched them with bows. Soon they discovered that these gunpowder tubes could launch themselves just by the power produced from the escaping gas. The true rocket was born. The date reporting the first use of true rockets was in 1232. At this time, the Chinese and the Mongols were at war with each other. During the battle of Kai-Keng, the Chinese repelled the Mongol invaders by a barrage of "arrows of flying fire." These fire arrows were a simple form of a solid propellant rocket. A tube, capped at one end, contained gunpowder. The other end was left open and the tube was attached to a long stick. When the powder was ignited, the rapid burning of the powder produced fire, smoke, and gas that escaped out the open end and produced a thrust. The stick acted as a simple guidance system that kept the rocket headed in one general direction as it flew through the air. It is not clear how effective these arrows of flying fire were as weapons of destruction, but their psychological effects on the Mongols must have been formidable. Gunpowder changed the methods of war forever.

toilet paper

581 A.D.

Now who cannot live without toilet paper? Every household all over the world consumes thousands of rolls of toilet paper every year. This genius invention was invented during the Sui Dynasty, about 581-618 AD. It was the Chinese who first substituted water to toilet paper to clean themselves. From then on this invention spread all over the world and has become one of the most widely-used items

Mechanical Clock

725 A.D.

One of the greatest inventions of the medieval world was the mechanical clock. The difficulty in inventing a mechanical clock was to figure out a way in which a wheel no bigger than a room could turn at the same speed as the Earth, but still be turning more or less continuously. If this could be accomplished, then the wheel became a mini Earth and could tell the time.

Yi Xing, a Buddhist monk, made the first model of a mechanical clock in 725 AD. This clock operated by dripping water that powered a wheel which made one full revolution in 24 hours. An iron and bronze system of wheels and gears made the clock turn. This system caused the chiming of a bell on the hour.


900 A.D.

It seems that porcelain was not a sudden invention, although some claim that Tao-Yue in the 600's AD was the legendary inventor of porcelain. He used so-called 'white clay' (kaolin) which he found along the Yangzte river where he was born. He added other types of clay to produce the first white porcelain, which he sold as 'artificial jade' in the capital Chang-an. By around 900 AD, porcelain was perfected, incorporating the translucent minerals quartz and feldspar.

Porcelain was much finer than other clay ceramics, so thin as to be translucent. Its white color could be painted in many colors. Porcelain was one of the most highly prized products from China, and in fact came to be called "china."

paper money

900 A.D.

The Chinese invented paper money in the 9th century AD. Its original name was 'flying money' because it was so light it could blow out of one's hand. As exchange certificates used by merchants, paper money was quickly adopted by the government for forwarding tax payments. In 1024, the Song government took over the printing of paper money and used it as a medium of exchange backed by deposited "cash" (a Chinese term for metal coins). The first Muslim bankers used a checking system by the 1200's, followed by Italian bankers in the 1400's. Paper money is still the most common form of currency around the world.

Movable Type

1045 A.D.

The technique of printing with carved wood blocks appeared about the 7th century, early in the Tang dynasty. Block printing reached its golden age during the Song dynasty, in the years 960-1279, as the imperial patronage encouraged the publication of large numbers of books by the central and local governments. Movable type was first invented by Bi Sheng of the Song dynasty in the year 1045 AD. The invention of reusable, moveable type made books cheaper and more available.

Europeans separately invented movable type in the 1400's. Until the invention of computers and photocopying in the 20th century, all books were printed using movable type.