IntroductionDuring its 400 year rule over ancient China the Han Dynasty had numerous achievements many of which have had a great impact on China and the world. Below we list some of the most important achievements of the Han Dynasty along with facts about who was responsible for them, when they occurred, why they were so important, and how they changed the world.
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List of Han Dynasty Achievements
- The Silk Road - The opening of these trade routes was the most important economic achievement of this great dynasty. For more information about this amazing Han Dynasty achievement see our page Silk Road Facts.
- Improvements to cast iron processing - Advances in the building of furnaces and with smelting techniques enabled the people of the Han Dynasty to make great improvements to iron weapons and tools. This also led to the invention of new tools; especially agricultural tools which vastly helped farming and in turn increased the wealth of the dynasty. The improvements to cast iron processing also made weapons and tools made out of this strong material more available to the people.
- Loom - During this dynasty the loom, which is used to weave cloth, was created. This achievement became especially important for the weaving of silk cloth which resulted in the lucrative silk trade during this period.
- Development of the paper making process - Cai Lun, who was born in 50 AD during the Han Dynasty, is widely considered to be the inventor of paper and the papermaking process. Although other forms of writing material such as papyrus and bark were used prior to the Han Dynasty it was Cai Lun who is credited with the invention of what we today consider paper.
- Porcelain - The Han Dynasty developed porcelain. Glazed stoneware called proto-porcelain with some of the characteristics of porcelain, was created prior to the Han Dynasty however this Dynasty developed true porcelain with its beautiful translucency.
- New uses for the waterwheel - A waterwheel is a wheel that is rotated by flowing water; such as those utilized by Mills. The Han people learned how to put this hydraulic- power to good use in such ways as powering a trip-hammer that would pulverize grain.
- Wheelbarrow - A relatively simple technical achievement, the wheelbarrow, had an enormous impact on this ancient society. It enabled heavy loads to be carried more efficiently. This meant that construction could be accomplished more quickly.
- Stirrup - Although it is not certain many historians believe the Stirrup was invented during the Han Dynasty. This simple invention is very important in that it gives a rider much better ability to control a horse.
- Improvements to ship designs - The Han Dynasty made several improvements to ship designs which enable them to venture out into the open ocean. They made improvements to the hull, sail design, and incorporated a stern-mounted rudder.
- Improvements to map making - The Han people developed maps that utilized grids; a method still used today to better pinpoint locations. They also created raised-relief maps (terrain models). These 3 dimensional maps enabled better understanding of the terrain of the region on the map.