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        Technology of Ancient China

        The people of ancient China were responsible for developing a number of fantastic innovations that are easily recognizable and important today. Examples of these inventions include the kite, the wheelbarrow, and the compass. The Chinese invented the kite about 3,000 years ago. One reason for this might be that China had many good materials for making kites. The Chinese made silk, which was used for sails. Also, they had lightweight bamboo available to them. Ancient Chinese kites were made of stretched silk across a bamboo frame. About 1,000 years after inventing the kite, the Chinese invented the wheelbarrow. The wheelbarrow may seem simple today, but the idea of using a single wheel to allow one person to carry very heavy loads was important and transformative. Approximately 1,000 years after inventing the wheelbarrow, the Chinese introduced the world to the compass. A compass is a device that shows the direction of magnetic north. Knowing north allows one to also know south, east, and west. Later, the Chinese marked the directions around the bowl. Sailors used the compass to tell their direction. Review these images and their descriptions keeping in mind the significance of these inventions.

        Chinese Traditional Kite

        The Chinese have been making kites for at least 2300 years. Legend has it that these wooden birds, as they are sometimes called, were originally developed by the Chinese philosopher Mo-zi. This image shows a Chinese kite made in the traditional wooden bird design.

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        Chinese Wheelbarrows

        Historians and archaeologists estimate that the wheelbarrow was likely invented in China during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE). The earliest Chinese wheelbarrows had a wheel placed in the far front, much like a modern small wheelbarrow.

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        An ancient Chinese nautical compass. The phenomenon of magnetic polarity was known in China since the 8th century.

        The earliest Chinese records on compass design describe compasses that used a spoon-shaped instrument made of lodestone placed on a cast bronze plate. The lodestone spoon could move freely on the plate and point north. This design dates back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE).

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