Tang and Song Dynasty Inventions


The Tang and Song Dynasties in China, great advancements occurred that would forever change the way the world interacted with one another, conducted warfare, and even traveled around the world. These innovations are at the core of many activities we still do today. Stretching back nearly 2,000 years in total, here is a look at the Tang and Song Dynasty Inventions

Woodblock Printing

Over the centuries, humanity used whatever they could get their hands upon in order to document their thoughts. Stone tablets were common, but any writing surface would do. Turtle shells, bones, cave walls, and carvings in various mediums all help people to put down their thoughts as they happened. For 500 years, China had papermaking skills, but it was difficult to write down words by hand quickly to have many books. With woodblock printing, being able to print whole pages at once made it easy to create multiple copies of books, pages, or articles like this one.

Pharmaceutical Classification

One of the most interesting developments during these periods was the classification of medicines into specific types of pharmaceuticals. Books were printed that showed instructions and illustrations for the many items used in Chinese medicine and these books became the foundation of medical learning institutions so that physicians across the country could maintain a standard of care. Diabetes was first identified during this time and treating the condition was also recognized. A successful goiter treatment was also implemented.

Building Codes

Some of the oldest intact books regarding structural engineering date back to the Song Dynasty. Government building codes that maintained the standards of buildings are thought to date back even earlier, although concise codes came about during this period in history. These codes also required craftsmen do register with the government that they knew and would be held responsible for meeting these codes, much like modern contractor licensing today.

The Pound Lock System

With inland villages having access to rivers that could reach the sea, it made sense to send commercial boating traffic to these villages for supplies and trade. The only problem was that the rivers weren’t level. That’s when the pound lock system was developed, an improvement over other canal and flash locks that were utilized in the country since the first century BC.

With this system, not only could water levels be quickly raised or lowered, but a system of drydocking boats could also be implemented. Although the Phoenicians are thought to have implemented the first drydocking system, the Chinese during the Tang and Song Dynasty perfected a basin system using a locking mechanism so that a ship could be effectively repaired.


Chinese sailors during this period of history were known to sail as far away as Egypt in order to accommodate trade. In order to make this happen in a time-efficient way, the compass was developed so that consistent directions could be utilized with the cartography efforts of this period.

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