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    China Chronology

    Technology in the Song


    There were many technological developments of the Song. One of these developments was in printing. This was influenced by the Korean printing with moveable type, whereas the in the old way they had to carve out hundreds of characters on a single piece of wood before a single page could be printed. In this new more advanced way, also called "the Song way," there were page molds and individual Chinese characters were cast in metal or porcelain. These pages were reusable and the pieces of type were moveable. It was obviously much quicker than what they had in the past. Printers could publish their projects quicker, such things as study materials for young men who were hoping to take the examinations. By the year 1000 there was a mass production of official preparation books for these exams. Because of this, more people became educated and there were more men in government services because of the education these books provided. Not only were these books useful for preparing for the exams, they were also more illustrated and they gave more knowledge of ceramics, loom building, carpentry, iron and steel smelting, and medicine. They also gave abundant information on planting and irrigation, harvesting, tree cultivation, threshing, and weaving.

    Back to "Northern Song Dynasty" Chronology

    Farming was another area of technological developments of the Song. The development of iron plows facilitated the planning of seeds and prevented the loss of seeds to birds and deer. They also improved the efficiency of land use.

    Mathematics was another technological development during this time. Song mathematicians are the first known to have used fractions, and they also described the different phases of the moon. With this they made an extremely precise calendar. However, the most spectacular achievement of the Song in timekeeping was a gigantic mechanical celestial clock constructed by Su Song in 1088. This is the earliest known chain drive mechanism ever, and it told the time of day, the day of the month, and it indicated the movement of the moon and certain starts and planets across the night sky.

    One final area of technological development to the Song was in metal work. The mass production of iron resulted in the making of body armor for the soldiers. Bridges and small buildings were also made with this production of iron.


    Bulliet, The Earth and Its Peoples. "The Imperial Era II; Restoration of Empire." pg. 254-270. technology in the song

    Edited by: Kirstin M. Eilers
    Researched by: Kristin A. Olson
    Written by: Benjamin J Haworth
    November 20, 1997

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