During the Song (960-1279) and Tang Dynasty (618-906), many new inventions were introduced to China—the compass, gunpowder, tea drinking, use of paper money, and movable type/printing. Scientific books called the Suan-Ching (Ten Classics) were also introduced for the use of Chinese examinations during 619 CE. The Song Dynasty experienced great growth in non-agricultural goods (such as silk) and cash crops (tea), that eventually lead to an extensive market network in China. Before, in the Tang Dynasty, the Chinese population was centered in northern China growing wheat, but during the Song Dynasty most of the population started proceeding towards southern China (below the Yangtze River) to grow rice. Beforehand, wheat did not produce high yields of crops as rice did. However, in order to connect Southern and Northern China’s population, the Grand Canal was built later on between the Yangtze and Yellow River, which allowed for the easy flow of agricultural goods between the north and south. Since China grew in technology and science much faster than it did in Europe, Arab traders brought many of the Chinese inventions to Europe (such as printing, gunpowder, and the compass) during the time of the renaissance and reformation.
Europe was also developing new technologies and inventions throughout this time. While medicine, astronomy, mathematics, optics, and chemistry were introduced in Spain in 750 CE, the use of alcohol for medical purposes didn’t come until later in 1200.
In 1450, came the great invention of the printing press with movable type by Johannes Gutenberg. This invention was very important because mass production of books and documents were now possible. Following this, came England’s first printing press in 1476 by William Caxton, and by 1501 over 35,000 different books had been produced.
While doing this research, I was very intrigued by how much China had developed compared to Europe.