Ancient Compass: Who Created It And How Was It Used In The Past? | Kidadl


Ancient Compass: Who Created It And How Was It Used In The Past?

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The ancient compass was invented in ancient China by the Han dynasty in 200 BC and was an important tool for navigation.

Compass is a device used for directions and navigation. The ancient compass was used for checking directions when going sailing in the sea.

It was a magnetic compass. In those times, the ancient compass was called the ‘South Pointing Fish’ and ‘South-Pointer’. It was used to maintain peace and prosperity and to tell the future. It was believed that if your house or office was in the right direction, you will be healthy and wealthy. This practice is known as feng shui. It was also used for geomancy to order the buildings and harmonize the surroundings.

The ancient compass or ancient Chinese compass was originally made from lodestone or magenta along with a bronze plate. The plate has various constellations and symbols engraved on it. The loadstone always pointed in the south direction. The bronze plate was moved to get the north-south direction. Compass learning was also established and taught by the Chinese. Later, the ancient compass was used by various others like the Chinese Song Dynasty, Western Europe, and Islamic countries. At this time, the compass was made up of magnetized needles fixed on a wooden piece. It also points in the south direction. In Europe, the compass was first made and used in 1190. It spread all over the world. Many different versions of the magnetic compass were made and later used magnetic needles for their manufacture.

After reading about the role of the magnetic needle in the first compasses created in the world, also check ancient China trades and ancient fish.

Why is the ancient compass important?

The ancient compass was invented during the Han Dynasty in ancient China about 2,000 'years ago. It was a magnetic compass. It was considered one of the most important inventions of the time.

They used iron oxide or loadstone to make these compasses. It pointed towards the south. By moving the bronze plate below it, people could easily detect the south direction and reach their destination. It made trade and traveling very easy.

The ancient compass or ancient Chinese compass is of great significance. Some of the reasons are mentioned down below.

In the early days, people used astronomical and celestial bodies for navigation. But at times there were clouds which made it difficult for them to check the direction. The compass worked even during storms and in the presence of clouds. It was extremely helpful to sailors.

It helped in developing new and much better ways of finding direction.

Since navigation at sea was made easier with the invention of the compass, more and more people started trading goods through the sea.

Many new countries and places were discovered. It made the world a different place.

The trade of goods between different cultures and traveling to various places was made easier.

Who invented the compass in ancient China?

The ancient compass was invented in ancient China in 200 BC. It was done by the Han dynasty. They used loadstone or iron oxide to make a spoon-shaped needle for this device.

It also includes a bronze plate inscribed with constellations and symbols. It was a magnetic compass that pointed towards the south direction. It consists of four directions which are north, south, east, and west.

Earlier, people used stars, the position of the sun, and other celestial bodies to determine the direction. It is not a very convenient method. Many times there were clouds and fog due to which the sky was not visible. People often got lost, especially the sailors. Then in 200 BC, the ancient compass was invented by the Chinese Han dynasty.

The ancient compass was one of the greatest inventions in the history of navigation tools. The compass was made up of a bronze plate and a loadstone needle. On rubbing the loadstone on the iron bar, the needle was magnetized. It pointed towards the south direction due to the Earth’s magnetic field. Initially, the early compasses were used to tell the future of people. Later, in 1050, it was used for the first time by sailors for navigation purposes. The Song Dynasty, the Islamic Countries, and Western Europe are some of the early users of magnetic compasses.

How was the Chinese compass used?

The invention of the magnetic compasses was a successful and extremely important one. It greatly impacted trade and changed the whole scenario of world exploration. Many better tools for navigation have been developed since the invention of the Ancient Compass.

When it was invented, the compasses were not used for navigation purposes. In 1050, it was used for the very first time by the sailors. Later it spread to various parts of the world and was used by the Solo Dynasty, Islamic countries, and Western Europe.

The Ancient Chinese Compasses have a magnetized needle made of loadstone and a bronze plate. Various concentric circles along with some symbols and constellations were made on it. It was secured with a glass cover. The needle is in the shape of a spoon or ladle. In the early days of the invention of the Ancient Compass, it was used for worship, to tell the future, and to align the buildings properly.

The Chinese sailors used it for navigation in the 11th century. It opened the gates to new opportunities. Many countries started trading through seaways. New countries and places were found. It was also known as the ‘Age of Exploration’. People were able to travel to new lands using these compasses. Import and export were made possible between different cultures. Some people believed that if their house and workplace were in the right direction on the Earth, they were lucky. It ensured health and wealth for them.

The ancient compass was nothing but a magnetic needle floating on water.

How was navigation done by the Chinese compass?

Before the invention of the magnetic compasses, people relied on stars, waves, migrating birds, and various celestial and astronomical occurrences for navigation. It was not very reliable though. People could get easily lost in forests or seas.

This could happen especially during the presence of clouds and fog. When the compass was invented, it wasn’t used to determine the direction. People used it to ensure peace and harmony around themselves. Nowadays, this practice is known as feng shui.

The Ancient Compasses were made from a loadstone needle and a bronze plate. The loadstone was first rubber with an iron bar. It magnetized the loadstone and turned it into a permanent magnet. Due to the magnetic field of Earth, this needle always pointed towards the South direction. It works on the principle of a magnetic pole.

The Ancient Compasses had various inscriptions from Ancient culture, heavens, constellations, and symbols. Even the needle at the center was in the shape of a spoon and symbolized the Ursa Major (or the Great Bear). People could easily determine the South direction using the Ancient compass even if there was dense fog or clouds.

Comparing Ancient Chinese Compasses And Modern Compasses

The modern compass was developed on the foundation of the ancient compass. They have various similarities. Both compasses use a kind of magnet needle to determine the direction. They both work on the basic principle of Earth’s magnetic field.

They have four directions north (N), south (S), east (E), and west (W). But the ancient compass and the modern compass have various differences too.

Some of the differences between ancient compass and modern compass are as follows.

The ancient compass always pointed towards the south direction while the modern compass points towards the north direction.

The ancient compass used loadstone to make the needle while the modern Compass uses a magnet to make the needle (usually an iron needle).

The ancient compass had a needle in the shape of a spoon or a ladle while the modern compass has a needle that resembles a sewing needle.

In ancient compass, various symbols, constellations, and the symbols of Heaven were inscribed. In the modern compass, only letters for each direction are written.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for ancient compass then why not take a look at ancient Irish weapons or ancient Rome dome.

Hemant Oswal
Written By
Hemant Oswal

<p>With global experience in marketing and business development, Hemant is a seasoned professional with a unique perspective. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from the University of Delhi and a Master's degree in Marketing from The University of Adelaide in Australia. Hemant's work in China, Hong Kong, and Dubai has honed his skills and provided valuable experience. He broadens his understanding of the world through reading non-fiction books and watching documentaries.</p>

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