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China has been the source of many innovations , scientific discoveries and inventions. The list below contains these and other inventions in China attested by archaeological or historical evidence. The historical region now known as China experienced a history involving mechanics , hydraulics and mathematics applied to horology , metallurgy , astronomy , agriculture , engineering , music theory , craftsmanship , naval architecture and warfare. By the Warring States period — BC , inhabitants of the Warring States had advanced metallurgic technology, including the blast furnace and cupola furnace , while the finery forge and puddling process were known by the Han Dynasty BC—AD A sophisticated economic system in imperial China gave birth to inventions such as paper money during the Song Dynasty — The invention of gunpowder during the mid 9th century led to an array of inventions such as the fire lance , land mine , naval mine , hand cannon , exploding cannonballs, multistage rocket and rocket bombs with aerodynamic wings and explosive payloads. With the navigational aid of the 11th century compass and ability to steer at high sea with the 1st century sternpost rudder , premodern Chinese sailors sailed as far as East Africa. They also made large mechanical puppet theaters driven by waterwheels and carriage wheels and wine-serving automatons driven by paddle wheel boats. The contemporaneous Peiligang and Pengtoushan cultures represent the oldest Neolithic cultures of China and were formed around BC. For the purposes of this list, inventions are regarded as technological firsts developed in China, and as such does not include foreign technologies which the Chinese acquired through contact, such as the windmill from the Middle East or the telescope from early modern Europe.
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