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The earliest known recorded recipes for gunpowder were written by Zeng Gongliang, Ding Du and Yang Weide in the Wujing Zongyao, a military manuscript compiled in 1044 during the Song Dynasty (960–1279).
Its gunpowder formulas describe the use of incendiary bombs launched from catapults, thrown down from defensive walls, or lowered down the wall by use of iron chains operated by a swape lever.
Movable type: The polymath scientist and official Shen Kuo (1031–1095) of the Song Dynasty (960–1279) was the first to describe the process of movable type printing in his Dream Pool Essays of 1088.
He attributed the innovation of reusable fired clay characters to a little-known artisan named Bi Sheng (990–1051).
A Korean miniature dharani Buddhist sutra discovered in 1966, bearing extinct Chinese writing characters used only during the reign of China's only self-ruling empress, Wu Zetian (r.690–705), is dated no earlier than 704 and preserved in a Silla Korean temple stupa built in 751.
Example of a Chinese printed map in a gazetteer, showing Fengshan County of Taiwan Prefecture, published in 1696; the first known printed map from China comes from a Song Dynasty (960–1279) encyclopedia of the 12th century A cross section of a Chinese hall, from the Yingzao Fashi architectural treatise published by Li Jie in 1103, during the Song Dynasty (960–1279); this book explicitly laid out an eight-graded modular system of architecture for timber halls and pavilions of different sizes A plan and side view of a canal pound lock, essentially a double-gate canal lock used to regulate water levels in segmented canal chambers for the safe passage of ships, first invented by the 10th century engineer Qiao Weiyo for a section of China's Grand Canal The puddling process of smelting iron ore to make wrought iron from pig iron, the right half of the illustration (not shown) displays men working a blast furnace, Tiangong Kaiwu encyclopedia published in 1637, written by Song Yingxing (1587–1666).
The following is a list of the Four Great Inventions—as designated by Joseph Needham (1900–1995), a British scientist, author and sinologist known for his research on the history of Chinese science and technology.
Although it is recorded that the Han Dynasty (202 BC – AD 220) court eunuch Cai Lun (50 AD – AD 121) invented the pulp papermaking process and established the use of new materials used in making paper, ancient padding and wrapping paper artifacts dating to the 2nd century BC have been found in China, the oldest example of pulp papermaking being a map from Fangmatan, Tianshui; by the 3rd century, paper as a writing medium was in widespread use, replacing traditional but more expensive writing mediums such as strips of bamboo rolled into threaded scrolls, strips of silk, wet clay tablets hardened later in a furnace, and wooden tablets.
Bombs launched from trebuchet catapults mounted on forecastles of naval ships ensured the victory of Song over Jin forces at the Battle of Caishi in 1161, while the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368) used gunpowder bombs during their failed invasion of Japan in 12.
During the 13th and 14th centuries, gunpowder formulas became more potent (with nitrate levels of up to 91%) and gunpowder weaponry more advanced and deadly, as evidenced in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) military manuscript Huolongjing compiled by Jiao Yu (fl.