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Thread: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

  1. #1

    Default Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    After doing my research on the Zheng He Treasure Ships,and finding claims for their enormous sizds rather exaggerated, I am finding a lot of other claims for the Chinese also exaggerated or just plain incorrect. There seems to be an industry running around saying how great the Chinese werez but when you examine the facts closely. The achievements and claims are not as great as it seems. Also, you have to counterbalance the Chinese achievements with the things they did not achieve to arrive at a true assessment of what the Chinese achieved.


    For example, we see a lot of how the Chinese were the first to record sunspots and such things before everyone else. But those discoveries have to be balanced with the fact that alone among their peers in Old World civilizations, only the Chinese persisted in a belief rhe earth was not a sphere but flat. And even in the Dark Agesz when European Civilization was at its lowest, the Venerable Need knew things that the Chinese at their peak never discovered. Unlike the Chinese, Bede understood why length of daylight changed with the seasons, and the relationship of the moon with the tides. Knowing the Earth is a sphere and how the tides changed with the moon is far more important than simply observing sunspots as the Chinese did.

    And while it is claimed the Chinese were the first to have ships with multiple mast, actually the oldest Roman evidence predates rhe earliest examples of Chinese ships with multiple mast by centuries. And while we have multiple textual and physical evidence of very large ships of several hundred tons of more, the largest contemporary Chinese ships we have found were only around 60 tons, a fraction of the size. And while watertight bulkheads were hailed as some great advance, anyone who could build a watertight bill could build a watertight bulkhead if they chose. Watertight bulkheads have disadvantages in cargo placement, which is why the Portuguese and others chose to build lorchas in Chinese waters, ships with European hull designs but Chinese sails. They felt the disadvantages ofnrhr watertight bulkheads outweighed any advantages they had in their eyes.

    The Chinese might have invented cast iron 1500 years ahead of everyone else, the Romans invented concrete 2000 years before the Chinese, and of the 2, concrete is more important in the modern world

    So while the Chinese was the equal of any pre-modern civilization, it was not the superior to all others as is so often claimed
    Last edited by Common Soldier; October 22, 2019 at 11:08 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    I'll have some more thoughts later. But The reality of the 'got it first' game is that it is a popular one. Critically first ism is a valuable tool in state and nation building...

    For example, we see a.lor of how the Chinese were the first to record sunspots and such things before everyone else
    That on is funny really really either for Chinese or for John of Worcester (or the earlier European observers) didn't their mothers ever tell not to stare into the sun.
    Last edited by conon394; October 22, 2019 at 08:20 PM.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    I'll have some more thoughts later. But The reality of the 'got it first' game is that it is a popular one. Critically first ism is a valuable tool in state and nation building.
    It always seems that the Chinese are more into being first than most. Being first can be important, but perfecting it and making it practical can be far more important in my book. And if are first, but then forget sbout it, you should loose some credit. Being second, and letting everybody else know is more important than being first first and notntell anyone about them. Da Vinci was impressive, but since many of his ideas he kept secret, makes him.somewhar overrated. And it still is an impressive achievement if you you independently discover or invent something that had been previous found or invented by others if you didn't know about it. That writing had resd been invented in other parts of the world should not take away credit for the Mayans also having also independently inventing writing.

    One of the things most annoying about Needham is he was always reminding you that the Chinese invented this thing a 1000 years before the Europeans oe that thing 800 years before the West, but never does the reverse - when others are the first, he seldom points out the Romans werenusing concrete 2000 years before the Chinese, or the West were using draw plates a thousand years before the Chinese to make metal wire. In fact, if the Chinese are not the first to invent something, Chinese scholars seldom talk about the invention at all, or she it was borrowed. For exsmple, Needham mentions in a single sentence one source that said.sand hourglasses were introduced into China in the 1600's, but then sends the next half dozen paragraphs speculating how China might have invented hourglasses first and intoduce them tonEurope before being forced to admit that hourglasses really were invented in Europe first because they require the use of glass blowing to make, an art invented in the West snd not used in China until after European contact. Because rhr Chinese were not first, Needham quickly drops the entire discussion after concluding hourglasses were invented in thr West, and we are left to wonder exactly how and by whom hourglasses were introduced into China. Was it by the Jesuits, who introduced other technologies into China. Or did the Chinese pick up the use of the hourglass from visiting European ships, observing how useful a time keeping device that could be reused snd didn't blow out in the wind like the candle clocks they Chinese had been using.

    A question Needham doesn't even discuss in his famous works was when were lifting cranes introduced into China? Lifting cranes had been used in Europe since Roman and medieval times, and their use in construction greatly aided in building with heavy stone in structure like gothic cathedrals, and in Roman buildings, also in commerce as well, since medieval harbor cranes could help speed up loading and unloading of ships. Yet in Neddham does not even mention their existence in Science and Civilization, or when compound pulleys started to be used in China, which pretty much gurantees these inventions were not used in China until a later date not until ths modern era. If the Chinese did not fully understand the principles of mechanical advantage as well as in the West, it could help explain why the Chinese never invented anymofnrhe wider variety of mechanical assists to arm their crossbows as we find in Europe, where eyou have windlass using pulleys, crsanequkns using years, and goat's levers to arm crossbows of high draw weight. Not having lifting cranes available could have affected design ofnChinese architecture, and discouraged the use of stone and favored wood, which was lighter. But it seems that inventions that Chinese could claim to be the first.or.one of the first apparently didn't interest Needham. Needham knows the screw was not invented in China, so when was the screw introduced into China, and by whom (Jesuits, merchants, sailors?). The screw doesn't sound like much, but imagine trying to build and repair a modern engine if all the brackets, pulleys,.motors and pumps.had to be welded on or held in place by rivets? I think mackmof screws would hamper the development of complex machines.


    That on is funny really really either for Chinese or for John of Worcester (or the earlier European observers) didn't their mothers ever tell not to stare into the sun.
    Well, they could have projected the sun onto a very white and clean piece of paper, and observed the spots in that projected image instead of looking directly at the sun. But since Galileo looked at sunspots with s telescope, I guess these early astronomers just went blind in later life is all.

    Pm

  4. #4

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    The only thing better than the past belonging to China is the future belonging to China. Feels good, man.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gromovnik View Post
    The only thing better than the past belonging to China is the future belonging to China. Feels good, man.
    As long as your aren't a Tibetan, an Uighur, or any of the minoriries that live in the western half of China, and you get arrested for wanting more rights, and protest against being a second class citizens in you own land, then it doesn't feel good.

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    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    Look China seems to have kicked a bit later than the big 3 (Egypt Euphrates and Indus) and its isolation meant there was less cross pollination (still some though). By 200 BCE they were getting thereabouts and long stretches of relatively stable rule meant some ideas techs etc could develop more elaborately than in points west (and vice versa of course). There were eras when the Imperial civil service must have rivalled and surpassed the East Roman system.

    "The Song ruled ! And we're them, so we rule!" is as silly as any propaganda stream, such as European nationalists portraying 19th century China as a queer mix of decadent barbarism.

    That said China is one of the great and influential lights of the world, up there with Hellenism and its bastard Western Civilisation (Persian/Arab Islam would be the other). As a massive complex of cultures that has arguably endured as a somewhat consistent society and polity for over two Millenia it probably can win a lot of pissing contests.
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    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gromovnik View Post
    The only thing better than the past belonging to China is the future belonging to China. Feels good, man.
    It's only because they actually tell children that.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    How many historians claimed pre-modern China was superior to all others in the first place? Let me see their quotes claiming this.

    In fact, if the Chinese are not the first to invent something, Chinese scholars seldom talk about the invention at all, or she it was borrowed
    How many Chinese scholars have you read? And if by "Chinese scholars" you mean scholars dedicated to studying Chinese history, why should they mention non-Chinese inventions when their topic is about Chinese inventions?
    Last edited by HackneyedScribe; October 23, 2019 at 05:18 PM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by HackneyedScribe View Post
    How many historians claimed pre-modern China was superior to all others in the first place? Let me see their quotes claiming this.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Great_Inventions

    The Four Great Inventions of Ancient China" refers to paper, gunpowder, printing, and the compass.

    The idea of the Four Great Inventions was first put forward by British sinologist Dr. Joseph Needham (1900–1995) and is widely accepted by Chinese historians.

    These four great inventions greatly promoted the development of China’s economy, politics and culture. When these technologies were introduced to the Western countries through various channels, they substantially revolutionized world civilization. [1]


    [1]https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/culture/four-great-invention.htm
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    Where in that article did it say pre-modern China was superior to all others?

    On the other hand if we're bringing in wikipedia articles then this section of wikipedia is obviously wrong:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crankshaft

    The earliest hand-operated cranks appeared in China during the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD). They were used for silk-reeling, hemp-spinning, for the agricultural winnowing fan, in the water-powered flour-sifter, for hydraulic-powered metallurgic bellows, and in the well windlass.[4] The rotary winnowing fan greatly increased the efficiency of separating grain from husks and stalks.[5][6] However, the potential of the crank of converting circular motion into reciprocal motion never seems to have been fully realized in China, and the crank was typically absent from such machines until the turn of the 20th century.[7]
    For example, from the Nongshu:



    Anyway, if I type in "most advanced empire in the world", most of the search results regarding this seem to be about Rome, even though the ancient Chinese contemporaries would give it a run for it's money.

    For example, we see a lot of how the Romans invented concrete. But said invention is at least in part due to Rome's geographic advantage in having access to volcanic ash (their concrete is different from our modern ones). This is more akin to the Chinese invention of lacquerware and silk in which the invention is at least in part due to China having the geographic advantage of lacquer and silkworms. And although the Romans used compound pulleys, the Chinese used the mechanical advantage of triple compound levers for their crossbow triggers, which allowed them to reduce trigger pull despite the crossbow's high draw weight while still having the trigger being compact in size. This probably explains why later Europeans had to utilize cumbersome windlasses in order for their handheld crossbows to match the power of a strong warbow, whereas Chinese crossbows were able to far exceed the hitting power of a warbow without the need of a windlass (as the compact trigger and light trigger pull allowed their crossbows to have a long powerstroke while still having the crossbow maintain a reasonable size for handheld use). And although the Romans were said to have invented the crank and connecting rod, the Han dynasty invention of the crank and connecting rod (ie the "long") beats the Roman invention by at least more than a century, but was rarely mentioned in conjunction. One could say that the Chinese lagged behind in the conception of the round earth, but something as simple as planting grain seeds in rows (a practice the Han already practiced) was not recorded in Roman agricultural manuals despite the abundance of such manuals (and the majority of working people in both empires were farmers, not astronomers). Although the Romans used man-powered treadmills, the Chinese used borehole drilling. And although the Romans invented the codex, such a binding technique was inefficient for the material they had (parchment being expensive and papyrus being prone to cracking), that is until paper (a Han invention) was introduced in Medieval period. Although the other Chinese writing medium (bamboo slips) were cumbersome, it also allowed the reader to use it similarly to the form of a codex (or in the form of a roll, he can pick and choose). The ancient Chinese also utilized Indian ink which goes back a couple millenia prior to the Han dynasty, which was more permanent and unchangeable in color than the iron gall ink used by the Romans due to the latter's acidity. The Romans used mechanical grain harvesters, but the contemporary Chinese used adjustable depth ploughs and multi-tube seed drills which takes a more significant impact on farming. It's the speed of ploughing which is the more limiting factor regarding the amount of seeded land a farmer could maintain, not the speed of harvesting. Likewise whereas the Romans used the screw press and the Archimedes screw, the Han used the foot powered drawloom and the spindle wheel for weaving purposes which the Romans lacked. The ancient Chinese had their version own 'Archimedes screw' which used a square pallet chain pump to pump water upwards.
    Last edited by HackneyedScribe; October 23, 2019 at 08:34 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by Common Soldier View Post
    As long as your aren't a Tibetan, an Uighur, or any of the minoriries that live in the western half of China, and you get arrested for wanting more rights, and protest against being a second class citizens in you own land, then it doesn't feel good.
    People should learn better by now given the Tonkin incident, the Nayirah testimony, or Iraq having nuclear weapons.


    A separate survey conducted by Goldstein in 2000 asked Tibetans in TAR "Do you have a better life than your parents did"? The age group that were 60-79 years of age answered an overwhelming yes at 90%. Note that this age group meant that the majority of their parents lived before PRC occupation. So the actual lives of Tibetans would seem to be way different than the "hell on earth" that the media typically paints. Also, a secret survey committed by the Tibetan Government in Exile asked the Tibetan locals if they wanted independence. Only 29% of them said yes. That's an absolute maximum considering the survey was taken at a time right after anti-government protests and the organization doing the survey has every reason to try to maximize that number rather than minimize it. On the other hand, would the United States allow separatist activities within its territory that was funded by the Chinese government? I doubt it.
    Last edited by HackneyedScribe; October 23, 2019 at 06:55 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by HackneyedScribe View Post
    How many historians claimed pre-modern China was superior to all others in the first place? Let me see their quotes claiming this.



    How many Chinese scholars have you read? And if by "Chinese scholars" you mean scholars dedicated to studying Chinese history, why should they mention non-Chinese inventions when their topic is about Chinese inventions?
    Joseph Needham for one. You can't deny that he is still one of the main Chinese scholar when it comes to the history of Chinese scholars and technology, he wasn't some fringe scholar. And his ideas still have great influence today, especially in the field of what I call "pop" scholarship, the internet articles you always see whenever you pull up a list of Chinese achievements.

    For a example of a view typical of Chinese scholarship, here is an article that is a typical example of the view of many, perhaps most Chinese scholarship. I challenge the central claim being made in the the statement below.

    1. In the major field of architecture and construction, the claim the Chinese were ahead except in the last 3 centuries is not true based on all the fact.

    a. The Chinese may have invented the first "pound locks", but by around 500 years ago, when the first Europeans were roaming around China, the Chinese had forgotten the use of canal locks, while the Europeans not only had invented them for themselves, but expanded their usage.

    b. The Roman use of concrete allowed them to build large public buildings on a larger and more durable scale than their Chinese counterpart. And their use of wooden tresses in in their roofs and structures like Trajan's bridge demonstrated they could build complex wooden structures as well. That none have survived is for the same reason none have survived in China.

    c. The use of labor savings lifting cranes, compound pulleys, and in the medieval ages, labor saving wheel barrows indicated the Roman construction techniques were as advance or possibly more advance, than the Chinese, although I sure that that the Chinese had some techniques more advance in some ways. But they claim the Chinese was always ahead isn't really supported by the facts. In terms of engineering, and the complexity of the materials used, a gothic cathedral is as complex, more, than a Chinese pagoda.

    2. The Chinese were able to make cast iron long before the West. But the West was producing blown glass, and clear glass windows long before the Chinese. Today, glass blowing and our ability to work in glass in more important than the production of cast iron. Who is to say which is a more important achievement? Western superior ability in glass led to the microscope or telescope, while the West inability to make cast iron did not prevent them from making all the iron tools and weapons they required. By 500 years ago, not 300, the Europeans were also making and using cast iron.

    3. That Chinese ship building was more advance rest on very dubious grounds. We don't have any pictorial evidence for the design and structure of Han era ships, and the few small (60 tons) ancient Chinese ships that we have found don't prove they had either multiple mask or stern rudders. The clay model of river crafts with stern steering oar/rudders do not prove the sea going ships at the time had them as well. We have multiple lines of evidence for Roman ships far larger than for Chinese ships at the time, and we know that the Roman ships were sailing to India, while we have no evidence that the Chinese ships were. When the Chinese monk Faxian returned to China in the 5th century he did so on a non Chinese ship, suggesting perhaps that any sea trade with India was not being carried out by the Chinese. In any case, by around the 1300's years ago, European ships had stern rudders as well, and the stern rudders on modern ships owe far more to European than the Chinese rudder design, and by the 15th century European ships like the Grace Dieu indicate the Europeans were building ships as large as any we have any real evidence for the Chinese. Certainly by the 16th century, European ships were larger, more sophisticated in their sail design, and going a lot further distances than their Chinese counterparts, and the 16th century was older than a mere 300 centuries.

    4. When it comes to labor saving technology, it is true that the Chinese had water powered textile machinery, but the Europeans had water powered sawmills cutting wood and even stone since Roman times. And while the Chinese by the early Ming seem to have retreated from the use of their water powered machinery somewhat. It was in Europe that not just one, but a variety of machinery was developed to arm crossbows. It was in Europe, not China, that the all mechanical clock was invented that was the basis for all future clock technology, and that was a lot further ago.

    So while not all Chinese scholars maintain that China was ahead until 3 centuries ago, it is clearly a common if not universal view among Chinese scholars, and a very popular view in what I would call "pop" scholarship.


    a. Evidence documented in the monumental works of Joseph Needham and his collaborators shows that, except in the past 2 or 3 centuries, China had aconsiderable lead over the Western world in most of the major areasof science and technology.6 https://public.wsu.edu/~hallagan/Eco...k1/needham.pdf

    That the Chinese do not respond well when their view of history is challenged is shown by the the professor below who was suspended when he called some of the Chinese achievements overrated. This is unfortunate, since it is in China where we should find the most reliable sources for evaluating Chinese technology, and one can wonder what would be the fate of any Chinese scholar that can up with a less than rosey assessment of Chinese achievements.

    A lecturer in the southwest city of Chengdu has been suspended after he told his students in a chat group not to overrate China’s ancient civilisation.
    The university moved to suspend Zheng Wenfeng, 50, at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, after his students reported him for his comments.
    “The remarks have caused uncomfortable consequences,” the university teachers’ morality committee said announcing its decision to bar Mr Zheng from teaching duties and disqualify him from promotion for two years. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/p...ated-nq8s3s5z7
    The over assessment of Chinese achievements is not just a harmless case of poor scholarship. In the oft made but untrue claim of 5000 years of Chinese history, there is a disturbing negative consequence:


    Three, three-and-a-half, four millennia — surely all ancient enough. Does it really matter that China doesn’t have five thousand years of history? Yes, it does matter, and not because it’s annoying to have this inaccuracy spouted ad nauseam as historical fact, not to mention the hypocrisy of glorifying history yet so poorly preserving it. The myth is important because of the inference that China is uniquely old and so deserves special consideration. This has real-life consequences. When dealing with China — whether trying to turn a profit or awaiting democratic reforms — the implication is you need to be more patient and just wait a little bit longer. After all, the country has five thousand years of history. https://camphorpress.com/5000-years-of-history/

    The net affect of this is a lot of false claims like these claims that Gutenberg did not invent the printing press. Gutenberg did invent the printing press, even if he did not invent printing. While this might seem to be a trivial point, it is not. The printing press is a specific invention, and it was this invention, not merely the concept of printing, that revolutionized Europe. Printing in China, Korea, and Japan did not revolutionize their society to a fraction of the amount the printing press revolutionized Europe. The printing press had some major advantages over Chinese printing, and most of these advantages had nothing to do with the script used. Had Europe been stuck with Asian printing methods, i don't believe that printing would have had the revolutionary impact in Europe it did. Of course, that belief is impossible to prove one way or the other, but Korea made movable type printing its main method for 2 centuries before it had developed an alphabet, and the Chinese did use movable type printing as well for certain applications. Perhaps the barriers were not just the script, but the technology used as well. For one thing, the much higher melting temperature of bronze would have made casting a bigger production than the low melting temperature alloys used by Gutenberg.

    Any ways, in the popular press, you see a lot of incorrect statements being made


    The first printing presses were invented around 600 C.E. by Chinese monks, https://www.magellantv.com/articles/...nged-the-worldb


    The movable-type printing press was invented in South Korea. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing_press


    Gutenberg did invent the printing press. This is a common error you will find in the internet, even in Wikipedia. Gutenberg did not invent printing, that much is a true statment, but that is not what is being said here. While perhaps not an error made by actual scholars, I haven't seen many Chinese scholars correcting the error either.

    [quote]

    And if you are talking about the history of Chinese technology, that includes the history of technology that was borrowed as well as that which was invented. The Chinese scholars do talk about the inventions that were not invented in China, like the matchlocks., but that is largely because the history of these weapons can't be ignored, and their history was too widely known to speculate on them being Chinese invented. Also, Chinese scholars like Needham are constantly speculating on the possible transmission of technology to the West, with no actual evidence. Discussing the origin of a particular technology in Europe isn't part of discussing Chinese inventions either, but that hasn't stopped Chinese scholars from doing that, and if you want to speculate on possible transmission of knowledge out of China, then if you are really interested in history you would want to be discussing the possible transmission of technology into China.

    For example, almost no Chinese scholar I have read on the subject (Needham and others) even mentions the possibility of perhaps the idea of using a codex instead of a scrolle could have been gotten from outsiders the Chinese had an active trade with. The Guangzhou massacre of foreigners during the Tang dynasty killed 120,000 foreingers (https://openscholarship.wustl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1813&context=et) and most them, being Arabs or Persians, would have been using the codex as their main book format instead of a scroll. The only way the Chinese could not help but be exposed to the concept of the codex and the advantage it had was if they deliberately ignore the advantages of the codex, perhaps because it was a foreign invention.. It might not be a coincidence that it wasn't until the Yuan dynasty, a dynasty of foreigners that had extensive contact with peoples whose main book format was the codex, that we see the codex completely replacing the scroll as the primary book format in China.

    Indeed, one may wonder why it took the Chinese so long to switch to the codex format. The intermediate attempts to replace the scroll, like the butterfly scroll and the concertina books, demonstrate the Chinese were well aware of the deficiencies of the scroll format, and finally settled on a format the West had adopted maybe a 1000 years earlier.

    In the case of wire production, I read somewhere where Needham said the oldest evidence we have of wire being produced with modern method of using draw plates was from the late Ming dynasty. The alternate methods of making wire are more labor intensive, which may help explain why chain mail armor was never popular in ancient China. We see the rise of the cloisonné decoration, which require the use of metal wires, dating from Ming, perhaps Yuan dynasty. Using draw plates to make the wire may have introduced at this time also,

    The earliest securely dated Chinese cloisonné is from the reign of the Ming Xuande emperor (1426–35). However, cloisonné is recorded during the previous Yuan dynasty
    , and it has been suggested that the technique was introduced to China at that time via the western province of Yunnan, which, under Mongol rule, received an influx of Islamic people. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/clos/hd_clos.htm

    And to argue that the only technology worth discussing is what you invented yourself indicates you are not really interested in history, but rather in propaganda . An technology that was originally imported still can play an important role, and questions of how an original imported technology was adapted and influence other elements of society. For example, adopting of glass working technology from Europeans had a influence on Chinese art an culture. Surely asking questions of how such a technology spread was a question worthy of investigation, and not dismissed simply because the technology wasn't invented by the Chinese.

    Dream of the Red Chamber(Hong Lou Meng 紅樓夢), the most significant novel of the day, represents a constant transmutation between fiction and truth,and between illusion and reality. 5 The novel achieves its illusionism with a reality effect through its dense descriptions of concrete material objects and settings of an upper-class or aristocratic household, yet it simultaneously negates the realness of its subject.

    In the novel, glass objects including dressing mirrors and windowpanes are described as concrete things in the household; in addition, their presence functions as an allegory of the novel’s concepts of fiction/illusion and truth/reality. Indeed, it is not unreasonable tomake a connection between the construction of this fictional story and the broader epistemological shift that corresponded to the new material realities afforded by plate glass in living spaces https://www.academia.edu/19508475/_V...l_8_2016_17-38

  13. #13

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    This was my original question: How many historians claimed pre-modern China was superior to all others in the first place? Let me see their quotes claiming this.

    None of what you said gave quotes proving they said it. This was what you claimed: So while the Chinese was the equal of any pre-modern civilization, it was not the superior to all others as is so often claimed.
    How many historians claimed this? You haven't provided any quotes, and you mentioned a lot of things that doesn't show them claiming this. Europe is not "all others", and claiming the Chinese invented something does not mean overall superiority.
    Also, I would like to see the original quote word for word, not what other sources CLAIMED them to have said, for example the Zheng Wenfeng case you mentioned. A lot of what Chinese say are taken out of context or completely made up by certain presses in some parts of the western world. For example, here the media is quoting from a 'Chinese admiral' (but more like a armchair historian in terms of actual power wielded):

    https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-...uth-china-sea/

    But what he actually said was that China shouldn't go on an aircraft carrier race with the US, because carrier killer missiles were much cheaper and was enough to provide deterrence. Nor was he a real admiral in the first place. The news trumped up how important he was, and exaggerated his words.

    The following is the original speech:
    现在美国有11艘航空母舰,我们是不是要发展12艘航母,才能跟美国抗衡呢?我觉得这种思路错了,我们不能搞军备竞赛。历史的经验告诉我们,美国最怕死人。我们现在有东风21D、东风26导弹,这是航母杀手锏,我们击沉它一艘航母,让它伤亡5000人,击沉两艘,伤亡一万人,你看美国怕不怕?所以,我们军工总师也要考虑从美国的软肋去发展。

    Translation:
    Right now the US has 11 aircraft carriers, do you think we should develop 12 to compete? I think is the wrong type of mindset, we can't engage in an arms race. The thing that the US is most afraid of is KIA, we have DF21 and DF26. These are carrier killers. If we sink 1 carrier, they lose 5000 men, if they lose 2 carriers, they lose 10,000 men. Wouldn't you say the US would be scared of this? Because of this our military industry should develop in accordance with America's soft spot.


    Or how the NYT completely mistranslated what this family said:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvpo2jv5eqI&t=1662s

    So if the media claimed that the University of Electronic Science and Technology suspended Zheng Wenfeng due to some statement he made about Chinese history, then where did this University make said statement? I'd need to see it from the horse's mouth.
    Last edited by HackneyedScribe; October 23, 2019 at 09:11 PM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by HackneyedScribe View Post
    People should learn better by now given the Tonkin incident, the Nayirah testimony, or Iraq having nuclear weapons..@ £
    China is still in Tibet, China is still jailing Uighur and over minorities wh dare to ask for more rights, who the US is not in Vietnam and left ofnits own accord, and left Iraq after they asked the US to leave.. I don't see China leaving Tibet or any.of the western territortories it occupied. Mongols are now a minority in their own Homeland.

    Is the US record bad, yes, but so is China...I only said it because od the typical Chinese boasting that added not a single thing to the discussion. When China leaves Tibet we can talk about the Tonkin incident, not before.



    A separate survey conducted by Goldstein in 2000 asked Tibetans in TAR "Do you have a better life than your parents did"? The age group that were 60-79 years of age answered an overwhelming yes at 90%. Note that this age group meant that the majority of their parents lived before PRC occupation. So the actual lives of Tibetans would seem to be way different than the "hell on earth" that the media typically paints. Also, a secret survey committed by the Tibetan Government in Exile asked the Tibetan locals if they wanted independence. Only 29% of them said yes. That's an absolute maximum considering the survey was taken at a time right after anti-government protests and the organization doing the survey has every reason to try to maximize that number rather than minimize it. On the other hand, would the United States allow separatist activities within its territory
    The US would pull out not a territory if asked, the US did it in the Philippines. The Philippines wanted the US to leave and it did. The Philippines.wanted the US out of Subic Bay, snso thr US gave up a major Naval Base. We are not going to agree on Tibet, and until China pulls out all troops and the majority of Tibetans ask China back in, I will doubt what China claims about Tibet.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by HackneyedScribe View Post

    Anyway, if I type in "most advanced empire in the world", most of the search results regarding this seem to be about Rome, even though the ancient Chinese contemporaries would give it a run for it's money.

    For example, we see a lot of how the Romans invented concrete. But said invention is at least in part due to Rome's geographic advantage in having access to volcanic ash (their concrete is different from our modern ones). This is more akin to the Chinese invention of lacquerware and silk in which the invention is at least in part due to China having the geographic advantage of lacquer and silkworms. And although the Romans used compound pulleys, the Chinese used the mechanical advantage of triple compound levers for their crossbow triggers, which allowed them to reduce trigger pull despite the crossbow's high draw weight while still having the trigger being compact in size. This probably explains why later Europeans had to utilize cumbersome windlasses in order for their handheld crossbows to match the power of a strong warbow, whereas Chinese crossbows were able to far exceed the hitting power of a warbow without the need of a windlass (as the compact trigger and light trigger pull allowed their crossbows to have a long powerstroke while still having the crossbow maintain a reasonable size for handheld use). And although the Romans were said to have invented the crank and connecting rod, the Han dynasty invention of the crank and connecting rod (ie the "long") beats the Roman invention by at least more than a century, but was rarely mentioned in conjunction. One could say that the Chinese lagged behind in the conception of the round earth, but something as simple as planting grain seeds in rows (a practice the Han already practiced) was not recorded in Roman agricultural manuals despite the abundance of such manuals (and the majority of working people in both empires were farmers, not astronomers). Although the Romans used man-powered treadmills, the Chinese used borehole drilling. And although the Romans invented the codex, such a binding technique was inefficient for the material they had (parchment being expensive and papyrus being prone to cracking), that is until paper (a Han invention) was introduced in Medieval period. Although the other Chinese writing medium (bamboo slips) were cumbersome, it also allowed the reader to use it similarly to the form of a codex (or in the form of a roll, he can pick and choose). The ancient Chinese also utilized Indian ink which goes back a couple millenia prior to the Han dynasty, which was more permanent and unchangeable in color than the iron gall ink used by the Romans due to the latter's acidity. The Romans used mechanical grain harvesters, but the contemporary Chinese used adjustable depth ploughs and multi-tube seed drills which takes a more significant impact on farming. It's the speed of ploughing which is the more limiting factor regarding the amount of seeded land a farmer could maintain, not the speed of harvesting. Likewise whereas the Romans used the screw press and the Archimedes screw, the Han used the foot powered drawloom and the spindle wheel for weaving purposes which the Romans lacked. The ancient Chinese had their version own 'Archimedes screw' which used a square pallet chain pump to pump water upwards.
    A few comments

    1. Parchment is not unsuitable for the codex format, as existence of books like the Book of Kell's demonstrate. Paper replace parchment solely because it was a lot cheaper, and some of Gutrnber bibles were printed on parchment as well as well as paper. They would not have used the codex format with an unsuited material for 1000 years. Flat wrong

    2. Planting in rows and the other seed planting technology is more labor and investment intensive. While row planting gives higher yields, you can offset thr lower yields by planting and harvesting more acres. The Roman methods took less labor than the Chinese methods for planting, even though the yields were lower likely. Bottom line. The Romans managed to feed a poluation similar in size to the Chinese. Roman agriculture was adequate for what they needed. Also, I don think the light soils of the Mediterranean were as well suited for row planting. Bottom line, thd Romans may have chosen simpler methods because they had lower investment requirements and got the job done.

    But belief in a flat Earth is always wrong.


    3. Compound pulleys are also useful in construction. Mechanical assist like pulleys would make it easier arm the crossbow who on horseback. A powerful long powerstroke crossbow would be difficult to arm who on a horse, so the Chinese could have benefited from mechanical assist, but they never invented them


    I am curious as to what you think. Do you believe in what Needham thought and except fof the last 2 or 3 centuries China was signicsnfly ahead in most major area of science and technology?
    Last edited by Common Soldier; October 24, 2019 at 05:27 AM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    1. Parchment was very expensive and tend to smear whereas the more common Roman papyrus tended to crack. Just because it's used in a codex doesn't mean they were using the best type possible. In the end it was paper that dominated the codex format, not parchment.
    2.
    Burows of Norfolk experimented with comparing dibbling (planting in rows) vs broadcasting wheat, but he used a much lower sowing rate of 2 pecks per acre for dibbling (18.18 liters per acre). Despite the higher cost of sowing, the advantages in output, saved seeds, and easier weeding more than offsets this:

    https://historum.com/proxy.php?image...2762340537d229

    Both experiments still show greater profit for dibbling wheat than broadcasting it even if accounting for the cost of labour in sowing seed. The smaller profit difference is at least partially due to the much lower sowing rate he used (55 liters vs 18 liters per acre).

    Also not accepting negative numbers is always wrong.

    3. Long powerstroke crossbows allows Chinese low weight crossbows to match or exceed the power of many mechanically assisted European crossbows. Drawing a 2 stone crossbow is not necessarily harder than drawing a 600 lb crossbow with mechanical assist. Plus Chinese crossbows did use the mechanical assist of windlass and something similar to the goats foot lever during ancient times. So I would say they invented mechanical assist for handdrawn crossbows.

    4. As I suspected, after reading the actual exchange between Zheng Wenfeng and his students, the professor was highly unhelpful and condescending towards his students with answers such as "Google it" without even providing what words to google when asked, ending the discussion with "doesn't matter, go waste your life". The fact that mainstream media left out these is a mark against their own honesty.

    China is still in Tibet, China is still jailing Uighur and over minorities wh dare to ask for more rights, who the US is not in Vietnam and left ofnits own accord, and left Iraq after they asked the US to leave.. I don't see China leaving Tibet or any.of the western territortories it occupied. Mongols are now a minority in their own Homeland.

    Is the US record bad, yes, but so is China...I only said it because od the typical Chinese boasting that added not a single thing to the discussion. When China leaves Tibet we can talk about the Tonkin incident, not before.
    China originally occupied Tibet because they were asked to during the Qing dynasty. Most Tibetans don't want independence.

    A separate survey conducted by Goldstein in 2000 asked Tibetans in TAR "Do you have a better life than your parents did"? The age group that were 60-79 years of age answered an overwhelming yes at 90%. Note that this age group meant that the majority of their parents lived before PRC occupation. So the actual lives of Tibetans would seem to be way different than the "hell on earth" that the media typically paints. Also, a secret survey committed by the Tibetan Government in Exile asked the Tibetan locals if they wanted independence. Only 29% of them said yes. That's an absolute maximum considering the survey was taken at a time right after anti-government protests and the organization doing the survey has every reason to try to maximize that number rather than minimize it. On the other hand, would the United States allow separatist activities within its territory that was funded by the Chinese government? I doubt it.

    The US would pull out not a territory if asked, the US did it in the Philippines. The Philippines wanted the US to leave and it did. The Philippines.wanted the US out of Subic Bay, snso thr US gave up a major Naval Base. We are not going to agree on Tibet, and until China pulls out all troops and the majority of Tibetans ask China back in, I will doubt what China claims about Tibet.
    The Chinese pulled out of Mongolia when asked. The US made a hellhole out of Iraq, Afghanistan, the people didn't ask for it. They withdrew troops because that's what the American people asked for. Last I checked there's still 5,000 troops in Iraq. When the Confederate States of America declared independence, the US didn't leave. If you apply the same standard for the US that you applied to China, shouldn't the entirety of the US be given back to Native Americans? Anyway, like how the Union refused to accept the independence of the Confederates, neither did China when Tibet declared independence. Both the Confederates and the Tibetans theocracy had slaves. The difference is that China didn't fund Confederates whereas the US do fund Tibetan independence movements. We can talk about how China treats its minorities once US stop funding separatist movements in China.

    Also you haven't answered my original question: How many historians claimed pre-modern China was superior to all others in the first place? Let me see their quotes claiming this.
    Last edited by HackneyedScribe; October 24, 2019 at 08:32 AM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by HackneyedScribe View Post
    1. Parchment was very expensive and tend to smear whereas the more common Roman papyrus tended to crack. Just because it's used in a codex doesn't mean they were using the best type possible. In the end it was paper that dominated the codex format, not parchment.
    2.
    Burows of Norfolk experimented with comparing dibbling (planting in rows) vs broadcasting wheat, but he used a much lower sowing rate of 2 pecks per acre for dibbling (18.18 liters per acre). Despite the higher cost of sowing, the advantages in output, saved seeds, and easier weeding more than offsets this:

    https://historum.com/proxy.php?image...2762340537d229

    Both experiments still show greater profit for dibbling wheat than broadcasting it even if accounting for the cost of labour in sowing seed. The smaller profit difference is at least partially due to the much lower sowing rate he used (55 liters vs 18 liters per acre).

    Also not accepting negative numbers is always wrong.

    3. Long powerstroke crossbows allows Chinese low weight crossbows to match or exceed the power of many mechanically assisted European crossbows. Drawing a 2 stone crossbow is not necessarily harder than drawing a 600 lb crossbow with mechanical assist. Plus Chinese crossbows did use the mechanical assist of windlass and something similar to the goats foot lever during ancient times. So I would say they invented mechanical assist for hand drawn crossbows.

    4. As I suspected, after reading the actual exchange between Zheng Wenfeng and his students, the professor was highly unhelpful and condescending towards his students with answers such as "Google it" without even providing what words to google when asked, ending the discussion with "doesn't matter, go waste your life".


    A. I have never hear of a smearing problem with parchment. Please provide evidence to back up that claim.

    Paper had been available for a couple hundred years before parchment was stopped being used. It was only after printing was firmly established that parchment as abandoned. When most of the cost of making a book was the labor, the cost of the writing material was not as important. With printing, material cost made up a larger fraction of costs and the extra cost of parchment became too much.


    B. Please provide sources for the alleged mechanical assist. I am aware of one single picture of a possible windlass, but that picture is rather ambiguous, and the spoke wheel it showed would have been very slow for s hand held crossbow, much slower than the European medieval pulley system. But I have never heard of any goats lever like device ever used in China for crossbows.

    C. The professor was in a chat room. He had no obligations to help the students. It was not a class room. Could you provide a transcript of both what the professor and student said? Even Chinese script would be OK, I could get Google Translate to interpret I think.

    D. Please provide experimental results for similar study on the cost difference of the different seeding methods for Egyptian soil. Egypt was the main train provider in he Roman empire. And different soils could have different cost.

    And the numbers can't be negative since that meant the Romans couldn't feed themselves. But we know the Romans did manage to feed themselves, so the experiment must be wrong and can be ignore.
    Last edited by Common Soldier; October 24, 2019 at 07:08 PM. Reason: fix typos

  18. #18

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    I will provide the links and sources once you answered my original question that you still haven't answered.
    How many historians claimed pre-modern China was superior to all others in the first place? Let me see their quotes claiming this.

    1. Paper once introduced far outnumbered parchment, and the codex never really replaced Chinese types of formats until after the widespread use of printing.

    2. Why is the picture of a Eastern Han windlass ambiguous, what else could it be? Are you claiming the Zhugenu crossbow didn't use a mechanical assist?

    3. The discussion title was about the professor's topic that he wants the class to write about, he was partaking in a discussion specifically addressing this. When students asked him for examples of academic papers he told them to Google it or use other search sites, without even saying what to Google despite being asked. He didn't adopt the attitude of "you're wrong because of this and this and this". He adopted the attitude of "you're wrong, hahaha". The point is mainstream media left out this portion of the context.

    Pliny claimed that a yoke of oxen could only plough 1 iugerum (.625 acres) per day. Whereas Chao Cuo complained that for an inefficient Han dynasty plough a yoke of oxen could only plough 25 mou (2.85 acres) per day (and this is including seeding the field, which is not part of Pliny's calculation in ploughing). Using a more advanced Han dynasty plough, it could go up to 100 mou per day but it required more oxen. Ergo planting in rows did not cause Han farmers to work slower than Roman farmers. But it did help them produce more food per acre.
    Last edited by HackneyedScribe; October 24, 2019 at 10:45 AM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    Burows of Norfolk experimented with comparing dibbling (planting in rows) vs broadcasting wheat, but he used a much lower sowing rate of 2 pecks per acre for dibbling (18.18 liters per acre). Despite the higher cost of sowing, the advantages in output, saved seeds, and easier weeding more than offsets this:

    https://historum.com/proxy.php?image...2762340537d229
    Do you have a working link for that. Did the study account for labor needed for weed control with row seeding. If you broadcast well you are suppressed by the fact of no rows. There is for example a very virulent minority a Iowa State university of Economists, and Crop scientists of various sorts, etc who have the data from years of study that show corn (certainly silage and feed should be broadcast. The gains in weed suppression and reduction the modern equivalent of weeding (herbicides) is easy to demonstrate. But path dependency keeps Iowa in rows. In wheat broadcast can be just as effective as drilling assuming you do it correctly. It you look bad in a lot of modern studies because they are looking at where wheat farmers tend to use it. That is a time saver trying slip in a late winter wheat crop. Thus they are cutting corning in land prep and broadcast is just another corner cut so works poorly.

    -------------------

    @ Common SOldier

    I really think you are not contextualizing Needham properly. I only say this because he seems to bug you.

    As I posted elsewhere never forget he was (as a historian) on something of a personal mission. He was doing big history like Toynbee. He was also doing what he felt was a corrective to western triumphalism in writing history and ignorance of China. Its important also to consider when Needham published. Concurrently the Lynn White revolution was going on about how great medieval technology was and how crap the ancient world was. In addition the views that eventually produced Moses I. Finley's Ancient Economy were also peculating. Needham did not have to look far to see the Ancient Western/Mediterranean/Near Eastern world described as static and really just a technological shadow of the even early medieval Europe... just wealthy elites, unproductive cites all just resting on slave labor, un innovative, parasitic.

    Take the Trebuchet. Clearly it was invented in China and refined perhaps elsewhere. Both the Needham and Lynn white would tell you in a heat beat it was obliviously better than the classical torsion machines. Its only really in the last couple decades that good, math and computer modeling and some fairly accurate very small devices can show that to be false. At least in performance. There is no doubt the that the Trebuchet was more economical (if you did not have the fairly heavy technological investment at hand to build and use torsion machines) and not as dangerous to its operators. Saying either is better however is difficult in absolute sense. But when Neeham published why even bother talking about torsion. It was abandoned so must not have been as good as the diffused Chinese trebuchet that arrived in the West,so..

    Cast iron is an interesting question. From a technology standpoint I wonder more about the why of it place and time and not who first. Its interesting that at the time it appeared China had a very different market for bronze. It was deemed a luxury grave good, it was needed increasingly for proto money and than cash coins on grand scale. The bronze to gold ration in China at the time makes it clear bronze was far more valuable in China than the West. A bronze hammer is as good as a soft cast iron one (*). I still have some my Grandfather got when he got his journeyman's card from a retiring friend that makes them over 100 years old and working fine. The cost of those hammers in China would be very much different in the 5th century BC than in Athens at the same time. China had then a real incentive to produce an alternative to bronze for cheap tools. Notably also for good or ill with high silver production compared to China, the Ancient and Classical world was up to eyeballs in lead. A fair number of domestic and industrial items that might have used cast iron China used lead or pewter in the those places.

    So can you get a best out of that? China certainly did produce Cast iron first. But as noted above you can always counter with something else, no cranes say. More interesting is that while both China and the Classical world were familiar with amalgamation and had been using it for refining gold for a fairly long time, neither seem to have implemented something like the patio process to refine low grade silver ores on any scale (which the China in particular could have used). I say that with a caveat - speculatively the late Roman reprocessing of Laurium slag might have been such. The archeological record shows no indication of the earlier circa 4/3/2rd century BC Athenian use of improved specialized grinders to re work the slag so it might have a proto use of something like the patio process. So see score 1 for Spain, 0 for China and Rome...

    -----------

    Pliny claimed that a yoke of oxen could only plough 1 iugerum (.625 acres) per day. Whereas Chao Cuo complained that for an inefficient Han dynasty plough a yoke of oxen could only plough 25 mou (2.85 acres) per day (and this is including seeding the field, which is not part of Pliny's calculation in ploughing). Using a more advanced Han dynasty plough, it could go up to 100 mou per day but it required more oxen. Ergo planting in rows did not cause Han farmers to work slower than Roman farmers. But it did help them produce more food per acre.
    Under what circumstances and where for the Chao Cuo numbers. Pliny actually has a lot conditions on the figure you cite. In participial the whole discussion revolves around land that had been fallowed for a year. Not land in continuous use (recall he is talking to Romans with better access to manure and better soil than say some farmer in Attica and specifically contrast to land already turned in the spring). In addition he seems to have in mind a mixed field interwoven through vines and fruit or olive trees, not exactly easy back and forth.

    Also 16 acres a day really? I really want a source and a discussion on that. You really going to tell me the Han plough was that much better than a English plough form 1320 with 2 oxen and 2 draft horses? What was the size of the oxen at the withers by the way to achieve this number and how many more? In 1926 America a four mules [real big working mules] hitched on a modern (for 1926) plow could do 6 acres in a 10 hour day (and that also includes a couple walking behind for rotation). I'm sorry Chao Cuo seems a tad not credible.

    See Langdon "Horses, Oxen and Technological Innovation: The Use of Draught Animals in English Farming from 1066-1500" pg 160ff. circa 1250-150 England teams of mixed horses and oxen with all latest tech still averaged .5- 1.5 acres a day.



    * and when kid leaves it out the rain you don't need to given it oil cleaning.
    Last edited by conon394; October 24, 2019 at 03:30 PM.
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Was China really that far ahead of everyone else in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    Do you have a working link for that. Did the study account for labor needed for weed control with row seeding. If you broadcast well you are suppressed by the fact of no rows. There is for example a very virulent minority a Iowa State university of Economists, and Crop scientists of various sorts, etc who have the data from years of study that show corn (certainly silage and feed should be broadcast. The gains in weed suppression and reduction the modern equivalent of weeding (herbicides) is easy to demonstrate. But path dependency keeps Iowa in rows. In wheat broadcast can be just as effective as drilling assuming you do it correctly. It you look bad in a lot of modern studies because they are looking at where wheat farmers tend to use it. That is a time saver trying slip in a late winter wheat crop. Thus they are cutting corning in land prep and broadcast is just another corner cut so works poorly.
    https://historum.com/threads/what-we...125968/page-14

    So cost of labor was considered in the experiment and dibbling wheat was more profitable than broadcasting wheat. The first two columns were dibbled and broadcast by hand, which trumps modern experiments done using modern methods and heavy modern machinery which distorts what the cost and profit of what it was like for ancient Roman/Chinese farmers. Also, since dibbling was still relatively new to Britain at this time, the experiment had a much higher chance of incorrectly dibbling than incorrectly broadcasting.

    Under what circumstances where for the Chao Cuo numbers. Pliny actually has a lot conditions on the figure you cite. In participial the whole discussion revolves around land that had been fallowed for a year. Not land in continuous use (recall he is talking to Romans with better access to manure and better soil than say some farmer in Attica and specifically contrast to land already turned in the spring). In addition he seems to have in mind a mixed field interwoven through vines and fruit or olive trees, not exactly easy back and forth.
    The only condition Pliny gave for the figure I site was whether the land was ploughed once or twice, and whether the land was soft or hard. My figure is for soft land being ploughed the first time. Pliny did mention the possibility of ploughing between trees and vines, but I doubt he had twisting or turning the plough around these things in mind but rather simply ploughing in a straight line between them, as he emphasized the need to keep the furrows straight and that's not going to happen if you plough around trees.

    Emperor Wu appointed Chao Kuo the chief commandant for grain; he taught the people farming. According to his method, three plows are pulled together by one ox. One person leads the ox, handles the plows, and hauls the seeder-all taken care of by himself. In one day he plants 100 mu. Down to today the three metropolitan districts still rely upon the benefits of his method]. Now the cultivating plow in the commandery of Liao-tung has a beam four ch-ih long that hinders it in turning about. Two oxen are used; two persons lead the oxen, and one handles the plow. One sows the seed, and two haul the seeder. In all, they use two oxen and six persons; in one day they can only plant 25 mu. Such is the disparity. [CHHW46:11a-b]

    Response to your edit:

    Also 16 acres a day really? I really want a source and a discussion on that. You really going to tell me the Han plough was that much better than a English plough form 1320 with 2 oxen and 2 draft horses? What was the size of the oxen at the withers by the way to achieve this number and how many more? In 1926 America a four mules [real big working mules] hitched on a modern (for 1926) plow could do 6 acres in a 10 hour day (and that also includes a couple walking behind for rotation). I'm sorry Chao Cuo seems a tad not credible.

    See Langdon "Horses, Oxen and Technological Innovation: The Use of Draught Animals in English Farming from 1066-1500" pg 160ff. circa 1250-150 England teams of mixed horses and oxen with all latest tech still averaged .5- 1.5 acres a day.
    Where did it say 16 acres per day? The passage made mention of 2 claims, one claim of an inferior plough going 2.85 acres per day (which he had an incentive to underestimate) and another plough going 11.4 acres per day (which he had an incentive to overexaggerate). I can believe that the superior plough had exaggerated claims on its ploughing speed, but where's the incentive to exaggerate the ploughing speed of the inferior plough? The higher speed of the Han dynasty plough is probably due to: 1. The advance of the heavy iron moldboard plough that was invented by the Han dynasty which allowed them to speed up ploughing2. Precision seeding allowed easier weeding, which probably allowed them to get rid of more weeds than would have otherwise resisted the ploughing effort.
    Last edited by HackneyedScribe; October 24, 2019 at 08:48 PM.

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