History of Technology
This excerpt is taken from the Chinese Cultural Studies: A Brief Chinese Chronology by Paul Halsall, July1998-October 2000. Original material is available at http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/core9/phalsall/texts/chron.html
Chinese Periodization in Light of Economic Developments
Derived from Mark Elvin, The Pattern of the Chinese Past, (Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 1973)
Elvin begins by asking the question "why did the Chinese Empire stay together when the Roman Empire, and every other empire of antiquity or the middle ages, ultimately collapse?" His basic response is that large political units are not stable over long periods of time since "in order to maintain itself intact an empire must be continually improving its technology at a pace sufficient to counter-balance the improvements made by its hostile neighbors" (pp. 18-19) and that "the Chinese must on the whole have managed to keep one step ahead of their neighbors in the relevant technical skills, military, economic and organizational; or more precisely, since strength in one of these sectors could at least be partially offset weakness in another, in the complex of such skills considered as a whole" (p.20). The Chinese were not immune to political conquest "but in the last resort [they were] immune to political fragmentation" (p. 20). From this perspective, Elvin sees the economic and technological periods of Chinese history as fundamental to understanding the Chinese past.
Early Origins - in Yellow River Valley
7th Century BCE on- Permanent Agriculture
3rd Century CE - State Administration of Land Holdings
7th Century CE - Expansion into Yangtze River Valley
8th-12th Centuries - Revolutions in Farming Methods, Transportation, and the Money Economy
14th Century on - Failure to Maintain Economic Advantages
1800 on - China's Economic Subjugation By the West
This web page is under the supervision of Dr. Patricia Backer, the chair of the Department of Aviation and Technology at San Jose State University in San Jose, CA. She can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at (408) 924-3190. This page is part of an self-paced Internet tutorial on the History of Technology for the Advanced General Education class Technology and Civilization (Tech 198) at San Jose State University. This page was last updated on 06/10/05 .