Technology Chronology: 10,000 BC - AD 1600

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Material below is mainly adopted from Science & Technology: People, Dates & Events. Philips, 2000, pp. 2-21.

  Communications Transport Engineering Agriculture
10,000 BC     pre 8000 BC Paleolithic period (Old Stone Age) is marked by the use of stone tools. The Mesolithic period (Middle Stone Age) follows, during which stone tools are made of flint.

c. 8000 BC - c. 4000 BC Tools from the Neolithic period (New Stone Age) include polished stone axes and a type of flint sickle mounted in an animal's lower jawbone; flint is mined.
c. 8000 BC - 4000 BC Cereal crops are cultivated in the Neolithic period (New Stone Age).

c. 7500 BC Beer is brewed in Mesopotamia.
7000 BC   c. 7000 BC Dugout canoes are used in modern-day Europe; reed boats are used in what is today Egypt.    
5000 BC     c. 4500 BC Copper is smelted in Egypt and central Europe.  
4000 BC c. 3300 BC Hieroglyphic writing is used in Egypt; pictographic writing is used in Sumeria.

3200 BC Ink (made from lamp-black and egg-white) is used to write hieroglyphic on papyrus in Egypt.
c. 3500 BC Single-masted, square-sail ships traverse on River Nile.

c. 3500 BC Solid wheels are used in Mesopotamia.
c. 3500 BC Solder is used to join copper and the potter's wheel is invented in Mesopotamia; wheeled vehicles are used in Sumeria. c. 4000 BC Primitive ox-drawn plough is used in China and later (c. 3500 BC) in Sumeria.

c. 3500 BC Wine is made in the Middle East.
3000 BC c. 3000 BC Abacus is invented independently by the Babylonians and the Chinese.

c. 2500 BC Positional number system is invented in Mesopotamia.
c. 2500 BC Skis are used in Scandinavia. c. 3000 BC Glass is made in Egypt and Mesopotamia, probably for jewelry and small containers; bronze and copper axes are made in Mesopotamia.

c. 2700 BC Construction of Stonehenge begins (using mainly timber).

c. 2600 First step pyramid is built in Egypt, followed later (c. 2500 BC) by the Great Pyramid at Khufu.
c. 3000 BC Barley is grown as a main crop in Sumeria.

c. 2500 BC Bees are kept for honey in Egypt.
2000 BC c. 1350 BC Decimal numbers are used in China; 22-letter alphabet is used by the Phoenicians.

c. 1300 Musical notation is introduced in what is today Syria.
c. 2000 BC Spoked wheels are used in Mesopotamia and, later (1600 BC), in Egypt.

c. 2000 BC Paved roads are constructed on Kriti (Crete).

c. 1450 BC Barges 60 meters long are built in Egypt for carrying stone obelisks.

c. 1400 BC Sea-going vessels are built in western Europe.

c. 1200 BC Wooden-hulled boats with a keel are built by the Phoenicians.
c. 2400 BC Bitumen is used for waterproofing in Mesopotamia.

c. 2000 BC Looms are used for weaving in Assyria.

c. 1900 BC Arches are used in building construction in Palestine.

c. 1450 BC Stonehenge is completed in its final form.

1370 BC Iron tools and weapons are made by the Hittites; they hammered implements out of the heated ore because they lacked heat enough to melt the metal.
c. 1600 BC Wooden ploughshare is invented in Mesopotamia; grape vines and olives are cultivated in Kriti (Crete).

c. 1500 BC Seed drill (a vertical tube with a funnel at the top) is invented in Sumeria.

c. 1100 BC Iron ploughshare is invented in the Middle East.
1000 BC 875 BC Symbol for zero (0) is invented in what is today India.

c. 580 BC Anaximandros (Anaximander) (c. 611 - 547 BC) is said to have made a map of the earth, which he conceived of as a self-supporting, immobile, cylindrical object at the center of the universe.

c. 510 BC Map showing countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea is drawn by Ekataios of Miletos (Hecataeus of Miletus) (c. 550 - 476 BC).
c. 775 BC Two-decked ships are thought to have been built in Tyre (today in Lebanon).

592 BC Anchor is described by Anacharsis Skythai (Anacharsis the Scythian).

512 BC Pontoon bridge is built across the Bosporus by the army of Persian King Darius I; a second pontoon bridge is built there later (480 BC) for the (unsuccessful) army of Persian King Xerxes.
800 BC Pyramids are built in what is today Mexico by the Olmecs.

700 BC Pulleys are used in Assyria.

650 BC Aqueducts are built in Assyria.

600 BC Iron is widely used in Egypt.

550 BC Locks and keys are used in Egypt.
c. 850 BC Horses, which have been used to draw vehicles since c. 1800 BC, are now also used for riding in Asia.

c. 600 BC Windmills are thought to have been used in Persia to grind corn.
500 BC c. 430 BC Optical telegraph using burning torches to indicate coded letters is used in what is today Greece.   500 BC Dams are constructed in India. 500 BC Wheat becomes an important crop in Brittania; salt (useful both for preserving and as a medicine) and wool are traded there.
400 BC 400 BC Romans begin to use coins. 312 BC Via Appia (Appian Way), a road from Rome to Capua, is begun under the instructions of Emperor Appius Claudius. One of the earliest Roman roads, it is later extended to Brindisi; its total length is more than 560 kilometers (350 mi). 400 BC Military catapult is invented by Dionysios I of Syrakoúsai (Dionysius the Elder) (ca. 432 – 367 BC).

c. 360 BC Suspended device propelled by steam issuing from a jet is invented by Archytas of Taras (Archytas of Tarentum) (c. 420 - c. 350 BC).

c. 350 BC Iron smelting is developed in central Africa.
350 BC Cultivation is well established in western Africa.
300 BC c. 280 BC Mathematician Eukleides (Euclid of Alexandria) (fl. 300 BC) is known for Elements, his influential text books on geometry for almost two-thousand years.

c. 240 BC Eratosthenes of Kyrēnē (c. 276 - 194 BC) invents a systematic method, known as Eratosthenes' Sieve, of identifying prime numbers; it is too slow to decide whether or not a very large number is prime.
c. 250 BC Collar and harness for horses is invented by the Chinese.

264 - 146 BC Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage lead to expansion in ship-building industries.
c. 300 BC Cast iron is invented in China.

c. 280 BC Pharos, an 85-meter lighthouse and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is built on an island off Alexandria by Sostratos of Knidos (Sostratus of Cnidus).

c. 260 BC Simple pump using a rotating screw in an inclined cylinder (Archimedes' screw) is invented, traditionally by Arkhimedes of Syrakoúsai (Archimedes of Syracuse) (c. 287 - 212 BC), who also investigates the functioning of levers and pulleys.
290 BC Chest harness for horses is invented in China.

c. 220 BC The invention of gears enables ox-driven water wheels to be used for irrigation.
200 BC c. 200 BC Krates of Mallos (Crates of Mallus) is thought to have constructed the first globe.

165 BC Parchment (vellum) is invented at the court of King Eumenes II of Pergamon (197 - 159 BC).
200 BC Three-masted ships are built in what is today Greece. c. 160 BC Astrolabe is invented possibly by Hipparkhos of Νikaia (Hipparchus of Nicaea) (c. 190 - 127 BC); it is later (c. AD 850) reinvented by the Arabs.

c. 120 BC Force pump is invented by Ktesibios of Alexandria.
200 BC The screw of Arkhimedes of Syrakoúsai is used to pump water for irrigation.
100 BC 100 BC Negative numbers are introduced by the Chinese.

c. 100 BC Musical notation has been devised in China, according to chronicler Symaa Chian (163 - 85 BC), who tells of a music master writing down a zither tune; an Imperial Office of Music is founded in China.

70 BC Tironian system of shorthand is devised by Marcus Tullius Tiro.

45 BC Julian Calendar is introduced under Caius Iulius Caesar (100 - 44 BC); designed by the astronomer Sogigenes of Alexandria, it took a base year of 365.25 days and was inaccurate by a mere 11 minutes a year; it was not supplanted until the 16th century AD.
100 BC A cart with steerable front wheels is invented in western Europe. 100 BC Piston bellows for use in metal working are invented in China.

c. 100 BC Bridge are constructed of masonry in Rome.

c. 100 BC Cart wheels with roller bearings are used in western Europe.

100 BC Apartment houses in Rome are built up to 15 meters high.

60 BC Lucretius (c. 95 - 55 BC) describes magnets in his poem De Rerum Natura ("On the Nature of Things"); it is thought that magnets had already been known to the Chinese.
100 BC Oysters are raised (for food) in heated seawater tanks by the Romans near Naplestea; water wheels are used to drive mills for grinding grain in what is today Albania.

c. 50 BC Landscape gardening is practiced in Rome.
AD 1 c. AD 1 Romans use voice pipes to aid communication in large palaces. AD 1 Tandem harness for horses (instead of using two horses side by side) is invented in China. c. AD 50 Simple steam turbine, called an aeolipile, is invented by Heron of Alexandria (Hero) (b. c. 20).

50 Lead mining in Mendip, Brittania, is controlled by the Romans; in the city of Rome, millions of cubic meters of water pass each day through the lead piping of the water system.

c. 105 Paper is made from bark and rags by Tsai Lun (Cai Lun) (c. 50 - 118).

118 Pantheon is built in Rome with a 43-meter concrete dome, under orders of Emperor Hadrian.

122 - 136 Hadrian's Wall is constructed in England under the orders of the Roman emperor Hadrian; it extends for 118 kilometers (73 mi).

c. 130 Seismograph is invented in China Zhang Heng (78 - 139) to detect earthquakes.
c. AD 50 Pedanios Dioskoridos describes in De Materia Medica (Latin) over 500 plants that can be used medicinally.

50 Chain pumps are used for lifting water for irrigation in China.

90 Fan-like winnowing machine in invented in China.

110 Hand-operated, multi-tube seed drill is invented in China.
200 200s Ascending lanterns (Kongming lanterns) are used as signalling devices by Zhuge Liang (181 - 234).

c. 350 The Maya, in Central America, develop a calendar in order to calculate the year more accurately; it is more reliable than early Christian calendars.
200 Ships with several masts and a rudder are constructed in China.

240 Wheelbarrow is used in China.
c. 350 Methane (natural gas) is used for lighting in China.  
400 525 Anno Domini (AD) method of expressing dates, counting from the birth of Jesus Christ, is invented by Dionysius Exiguus (c. 500 - c. 556). 475 Stirrups for riding a horse are invented in China; they are first seen in southern Europe c. 500.

550 Wind-powered land vehicles are used in China.
580 Suspension bridge with iron chains is built in China. 530 Water-powered machine for shaking and sifting flour is invented in China.
600 c. 650 Printing from engraved wooden blocks is invented in China.

767 Printed text (a million prayers) is produced in Yamato (modern-day Japan) by Empress Shokutu.
  600s Cast iron is used for large ceremonial structure (such as a 90-meter tall column).

673 "Greek fire", likely a mixture of naphtha, quicklime and saltpeter or sulphur, is invented by Kallinikos of Heliopolis (Callinicus), a Syrian (b. c. 620).

790 Paper is made in Iraq and, later (900), Egypt.
600 Windmills are used to grind grain in Persia.

630 Cotton, imported from the east, is grown in Arabia and later (775) in al-Andalus (Islamic Spain).

700 Tea is grown in China.
800 c. 820 Al-Khwarizmi is thought to have been the first to solve the quadratic equation ax2 + bx + c = 0; he also originates the term algebra from al-jabr.

868 Printed book (a Buddhist scripture) is produced by Wang Chieh.

c. 950 Abacus is introduced into Europe for mathematical calculations by Gerbert (c. 940 - 1003), later Pope Sylvester II.
850 Astrolabe is re-invented by the Arabs, who use it for navigation.

852 First reported attempt at human flight is made by Abbas Ibn Firnas in Al-Andalus (Islamic Spain).

994 The canal lock is invented by Chiao Wei-yo
c. 840 dishes are used in China.

c. 850 Windmills are in use in Europe.

980 Chain drive is invented by Zhang Sixun (Chang Ssu-Hsun)
800 Open fields, using the three-crop rotation, are used in Europe.

900 Wheeled ploughs are used in Europe.
1000 c. 1000 Camera obscura is invented in Arabia, described Ibn Al-Haytham (Alhazen) (c. 965 - 1040); the notion goes back earlier to Mozi (Mo-Ti or Micius) (470 BC - 390 BC), Aristotélēs (Aristotle) (384 BC - 322 BC), and Eukleides (Euclid of Alexandria) (c. 300 BC).

c. 1040 Modern system of musical notation, using a strave, is invented by Guido d'Arezzo (c. 990 - 1050).

c. 1040 Movable type for printing, made of ceramic, is invented by Bi Sheng
1066 Buoys are used to mark river channels in Europe. 1035 Spinning wheels are used in China.

1044 Formula for making gunpowder is published in a Chinese military text.

1050 Crossbow is in use in France.

1088 Water-powered mechanical clock is constructed by Su Song (1020 - 1101).
1000 Coffee is used, initially as a medicine, in Arabia.
1100 1100 Colour printing is invented by the Chinese for printing money.

1136 Arabic numerals are used by Gerardo da Cremona (Gerardus Cremonensis) (c. 1114-1187) in translations of Greek astronomy texts.
c. 1100 Magnetic compass (pioneered by Shen Kuo) is in use by the Sung Chinese for maritime navigation. (Its use in orienting by the military goes back to 1040-1044)

1190 Sternpost rudder is used on European vessels.
1189 Paper bill is built in France. 1100s Hunting for whales is begun in the Atlantic by Spanish fishermen.

1100 Wine is distilled to make brandy on the Italian peninsula.

1126 Artesian well is sunk at Lilliers in Artois (Roman province Artesium).
1200 1200 Liber abaci by Leonardo Fibonacci (c. 1170 - 1240) is the earliest Western work to propose the adoption of the Arabic (originally Hindu) numeral system; the system was described earlier in a work by Al-Khwarizmi.

1232 Kites are used for sending military messages by the Chinese.

1234 Movable metal type used for printing is developed in Goryeo (modern-day Korea) by Choe Yun-ui.

1260 Carrier pigeons are used for sending messages in Mameluke Empire (Egypt and Syria).
1250s Wheelbarrows are used in Europe. c. 1200 Gunpowder rockets are used by the Chinese.

1230 Shrapnel-type bombs are used by the Chinese.

c. 1250 Gunpowder is reputedly re-invented by alchemist Berthold Schwarz; it is referred to in 1269 in writings of English monk and philosopher Roger Bacon (1220 - 1292).

1260 Firearms (made from bamboo) for shooting bullets are used by the Chinese.

1280s Cannons are made in China.

1280s Belt-driven spinning wheels from China via India are used in Europe.

1290s Rope cable suspension bridges are built by the South Americans.
1275 A whisky distillery is built in Ireland.
1300   1370 Locks are built on Dutch canals. 1300s Spectacles are used in Europe.

1307 Guillotine is used in Ireland.

1324 Forged iron cannons are constructed at Metz.

c. 1330 Mechanical astronomical clock is built by Richard Wallingford (c. 1291 - 1336).

1340s Wind-driven water pumps are used to drain land in modern-day Netherlands.

1340s Cannons are used in warfare; in 1347 they are employed by the English army at the siege of Calais.

1380s Weight-driven mechanical clocks are in use.

1380 Gunpowder rockets are used in warfare in Europe.
1400 1440s Printing press, in Europe, is invented by Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1400 - 1468), known to the Chinese since c. 650.

1450 Large (450-meter) portable astronomical observatory is built by Ulugh Beg (1394 - 1449).

1477 Intaglio printing, using engraved metal plates, is introduced.

1492 Graphite "lead" is used for making pencils in England.

1498 Movable type for printing music is invented by Ottaviano dei Petrucci (1466 - 1539).
1400s Three-masted ships are built in Europe.

1421 Canal boat filled with cranes is patented by Filippo Brunelleschi (1377 - 1446).

1450s Caravel—to become the most common seagoing vessel—is developed in Portugal.

1460 Four-wheeled passenger coach is built in Hungary.

1480 Practical parachute is designed by Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519).

1492 Flying machine (an impractical, wing-flapping ornithopter) is designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
1414 Warship equipped with cannons, the Holy Ghost, is launched in England.

1450s Hollow-post windmills, with sails that can be aligned to face the wind, are in use in the Netherlands.

c. 1480 Astrolabe is developed as a navigational aid by Martin Behaim (c. 1459 - 1507).

1487 Land mines are used in warfare in Italy.

1494 Paper mill is constructed in England.

1495 Explosive land mine is invented by Francesco di Giorgio (1439 - 1502), although crude mines were used earlier (1487) by Genoese troops.
1400s Coffee is made into a beverage in Ethiopa.

1400 Beer is imported into England from Belgium.

1410 Drift nets are used by Dutch fishermen, who also use salt to preserve the catch.

1495 Whisky is distilled in Scotland by Friar John Cor.
1500   1500 Helicopter (impractical) is designed by Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519).

1506 Rocket-propelled chair (meant to fly) is built by Wan Hu; it explodes and kills him.

1500s Tramways, with wooden tracks, come into use in German mines.
1500 Wheel lock for muzzle-loading firearms is designed by Leonardo da Vinci; it is manufactured in Italy from 1515 (replacing the matchlock).

c. 1505 Spring-driven watch is made by Peter Henlein (1480 - 1542); the introduction of a spring mechanism to provide the motive force enabled the invention of miniaturized clocks, which could perform in any position.
1510     1517 Wheel-lock muskets are produced in Nuremberg.  
1520   1522 Round-the-world voyage is completed by Juan Sebastian del Cano (1476 - 1526) in the Vittoria, the only survivor of the five ships that set out three years earlier under the command of Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan (1480 - 1521). 1520 Muzzle-loading rifles (with spirally grooved barrel) are made by August Kotter.

1520 Fusee for controlling the release of a clock mainspring is invented by Jakob the Czech.
1530   1535 Glass diving bell is used in Italy.    
1540   1543 Wheeled vehicle powered by sails (a land yacht) is constructed at a German principality. c. 1540 Gear-cutting machine (for making clocks) is invented by instrument-maker Juanelo Turriano (1501 - 1575).  
1550 1550 Glass lens for a camera obscura is made by Girolamo Cardano (Jerome Cardan) (1501 - 1576); the camera was invented at about the same time by his fellow countryman Giambattista della Porta (1535 - 1615).

1554 Sealing wax is introduced by Gerhard Hermann.
  1550 Screwdriver is in use, at first by gunsmiths.

1551 Theodolite is invented by Leonard Digges (c. 1520 - 1559).

1552 New glass-making process is patented by "Smyth"; it is the first English patent ever issued for an invention.
1560 1569 World map is published by Gerardus Mercator (1512 - 1594); it employs a system of projection that has since borne his name.   1561 Dredger is invented by Pieter Breughel and, much later (1618), by naval officer John Gilbert. 1565 Potatoes are imported into Spain from South America.

1566 Seed drill in Europe is invented by Camillo Torello.
1570   1573 Ship's log, for measuring speed through the water, is invented by Humphrey Cole (d. 1580). 1570 Timber truss girder bridge is built by Andrea Paddadio (1508 - 1580). 1575 Commercial production of gin is introduced by Lucas Bols.
1580 1588 Type of modern shorthand, using hard-to-learn arbitrary characters, is invented by physician turned priest Timothy Bright (c. 1551 - 1615). 1580 Round-the-world voyage is completed by Francis Drake (1540 - 1596) in his ship the Golden Hind (ex Pelican), the only survivor of five ships that set out in 1577.

1589 Kites are described in detail by Giambattista della Porta, though known to the Chinese since 700 BC.
1585 Floating mines, detonated by a clockwork mechanism, are used by the Dutch navy against the Belgians.

1589 Knitting machine for making stockings (called a stocking frame) is invented by William Lee (d. 1610).

1589 Flush toilet is designed by John Harington (1561 - 1612).
1590   1596 Iron-spiked warship is built in Joseon (modern-day Korea). c. 1590 Compound microscope is reputedly invented by Hans Janssen and his son Zacharias.

1592 Air-filled thermometer is invented by Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642).

1598 Self-winding and regulating clock is invented by Cornelis Jacobszoon Drebbel (1572 - 1633).

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