How China’s Inventions Changed the World


Chinese inventions have changed the world during the course of history. From paper money to gunpowder and the compass, many things we use today come from ancient China. Most of them date back to the Song Dynasty, which ruled the Asian empire between 960 and 1280 A.D.

When Marco Polo came to China in the 13 th century he discovered a very modern and civilized society. The Chinese engaged in trading, especially on rivers and canals. China at that time was highly developed, far more than Europe.

Many people travelled during the Song Dynasty. They built cities and took their own culture with them. Many of the largest cities of the world could be found in China during this period.

It was during this era that drinking tea was at the height of its popularity. People made very beautiful porcelain bowls, which they drunk out of. China, as we often call it, was produced especially for the royal family and for newly opened restaurants where rich people ate.

The invention of gunpowder changed the way wars were conducted. It led to the manufacturing of guns and even rockets. Without gunpowder, later inventions, like the car engine would not have been possible. Historians think that the Mongols brought gunpowder to Europe.

Printing was originally developed by Buddhist scholars. They copied texts that they gave to those who were preparing for examinations. The government also printed manuals for farm work and interesting articles about medicine. Because the Chinese alphabet is so complicated movable type printing was created.


Money printed in China in the 13th century

Money printed in China in the 13th century


Printing also had an effect on the Chinese economy. Texts about new farming methods that were successful in one region were printed and brought to other places in China. One of these new innovations in agriculture was the mass production of rice, introduced by a new type of rice that was grown in Vietnam. Farmers began growing crops not only for themselves but to sell at markets.

In order for economy to develop the Chinese needed a good transportation system. During the Song Dynasty canals were built to connect the main rivers. The invention of the compass allowed Chinese navigators to sail on open seas. They began to trade with countries in Southeast Asia, like Taiwan and the Philippines. Later on the Chinese expanded their trading to India and the eastern part of Africa.

The Chinese also invented sails that could be moved, in contrast to the early fixed sails that the European navigators had at the beginning of the Age of Exploration.

Because there were so many rivers and waterways in China people needed a way to get from one side of the river to the other. They designed what a rainbow bridge that could span one bank of the river with the other without a pillar in the middle of the river.

All in all the Song dynasty was a remarkable period in Chinese history with many inventions that make our world today a better place to live.


Related Topics



  • ancient = old
  • century = a period of a hundred years
  • china = porcelain
  • compass = instrument that shows direction and has a needle that always points north
  • conduct = lead
  • connect = link
  • course of history = as history went on
  • crop = plant like wheat or rice that is grown by farmers and used as food
  • date back = come from
  • design = create, make
  • develop = design, make
  • discover = to find for the first time
  • economy = the way goods are bought and sold and how money is used in a country
  • empire = one or more countries that are ruled by one leader
  • engage = do something; activity
  • especially = above all
  • expand = grow
  • fixed = not movable; to stay in one position
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • gunpowder = material that can explode in bombs and guns
  • height = at the highest place
  • highly developed = very modern
  • historian = a person who studies history
  • in contrast to = different than, other than
  • innovation = something new, modernization
  • invention = to make or design a new object that we can use in our lives
  • manual = guide, set of instructions
  • manufacture = make, produce
  • mass production = to produce things in large numbers and sell them
  • movable type printing = system of printing in which you can take out letters so that they can be used again
  • navigator = person who directs a boat
  • originally = at first
  • pillar = a round post used to hold up something
  • popularity = liked by many people
  • porcelain = hard, shiny white material, used for making cups and plates
  • remarkable = interesting , amazing
  • royal family = the king or queen and their children
  • sail = large piece of cloth fixed to a boat , so that the wind will push it along
  • scholar = someone who knows a lot about a subject
  • society = the way people live
  • span = to go from one side to the other
  • successful = to do well
  • trade = buy and sell things, or exchange products