The Mongols, the Byzantines, the Greeks and Romans all found themselves unhappily facing Chinese military innovations like gunpowder. It was silk, however, that helped broker peace between ancient China and other cultures. The demand for silk was so high that the fine fabric helped link China to the outside world through trade [source: Columbia University]. The fabric gave rise to the fabled Silk Road trade routes that eventually stretched from China to the Mediterranean, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
The method for manipulating this silkworm-produced material existed 4,700 years ago. A scroll containing an article on silk production was found in the tomb of created during the Liangzhu period, which lasted from 3330 to 2200 B.C. [source: ChinaCulture.org]. The Chinese closely guarded the origin of silk; they only lost control of their secret when monks from Europe got their hands on silkworm eggs and took them back West [source: Columbia University].
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Benn, Charles D. "China's Golden Age." Oxford University Press. 2004.http://books.google.com/books?id=ile3jSveb4sC&pg=PA180&lpg=PA180&dq=chinese+invent+wheelbarrow&source=bl&ots=E2IA-1urLD&sig=2JX6LQnvz4OeXWfCh6QTfmtErvs#PPA181,M1
- Huang, Jiken. "Agricultural biotechnology research indicators: China." Science. October 2001.http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/data/295/5555/674/DC1/4
- Krebs, Robert E. and Krebs, Carolyn A. "Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the Ancient World. Greenwood Publishing Group. 2003.http://books.google.com/books?id=0H0fjBeseVEC&pg=PA318&lpg=PA318&dq=chinese+general+invent+wheelbarrow&source=bl&ots=u98J-BfRqa&sig=4ONbEMBXThCWr9PqKpZFGqyaj4A#PPA318,M1
- Leinhard, John H. "No. 377: wheelbarrow." University of Houston. Accessed February 24, 2009.http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi377.htm
- Pleskacheuskaya, Inesa. "The centuries-old dream of flight." China Today. Accessed February 27, 2009.http://www.chinatoday.com.cn/English/e2004/e200408/p74.htm
- Roach, John. "4,000-year-old noodles found in China." National Geographic. October 12, 2005.http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/10/1012_051012_chinese_noodles.html
- Robertson, Frank. "Triangle of Death: The Inside Story of the Triads - the Chinese Mafia." Routledge. 1977.http://books.google.com/books?id=eq49AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA157&lpg=PA157&dq=chinese+invented+whisky&source=bl&ots=ISvCYlMbRu&sig=Nij6QP06z_xbVo8tJjB8GVFXmv4#PPA158,M1
- Walter, Patrick. "The Chinese probably invented alcohol." Chemistry and Industry. December 20, 2004.http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-126749790.html
- Whitehouse, David. "'Earliest writing' found." BBC. May 4, 1999.http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/334517.stm
- Wright, David Curtis. "The History of China." Greenwood Publishing Group. 2001.http://books.google.com/books?id=Mot11Al5DNMC&pg=PA42&lpg=PA42&dq=chinese+europeans+invent+crossbow&source=bl&ots=SmdnXqTtcq&sig=SxZ7S9veX8XhAv3AfTZWLf4v45Q#PPA42,M1
- "China: a teaching workbook." Columbia University. Accessed February 27, 2009.http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/song/readings/inventions_ques.htm
- "China resurrects world's earliest seismograph." Xinhua News Agency. June 13, 2005.http://www.china.org.cn/english/scitech/131762.htm
- "Chinese silk." China Culture.org. Accessed February 27, 2009.http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_madeinchina/2005-09/16/content_72995.htm
- "Early Chinese compass." National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. Accessed February 24, 2009.http://www.magnet.fsu.edu/education/tutorials/museum/chinesecompass.html
- "Four great inventions of ancient China." Chinese Embassy in South Africa. December 13, 2004.http://www.chinese-embassy.org.za/eng/znjl/Culture/t174418.htm
- "Lodestone." National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. Accessed February 24, 2009.http://www.magnet.fsu.edu/education/tutorials/museum/lodestone.html
- "Pasta was invented by China, not Italy, archaeologists prove." Pravda. October 12, 2005.http://newsfromrussia.com/science/2005/10/12/65067.html
- "The Charles Duell rumor." The Great Idea Finder. Accessed February 24, 2009.http://www.ideafinder.com/guest/archives/wow-duell.htm
- "The invention of paper." Wisconsin Paper Council. Accessed February 24, 2009.http://www.wipapercouncil.org/invention.htm
- "The invention of paper." Georgia Tech. Accessed February 24, 2009.http://www.ipst.gatech.edu/amp/collection/museum_invention_paper.htm
The heyday of Morse code is over, but the communication method of dots and dashes still has a place in our digital world. HowStuffWorks takes a look.