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Medieval games – Games people played in Europe in the Middle Ages

By |2018-04-20T08:25:49+00:00August 1st, 2017|Games, Medieval|

Medieval games: Women playing chess Early medieval games: Dice, checkers, chess The games of medieval Europe were mainly the same as those of Egypt, Greece, and Rome: dice, knucklebones, marbles, checkers. But there were some new games, too. In the Middle Ages, chess came to Europe from the Islamic Empire. When the Arabs took over Spain, in 711 AD, they brought chess with them, and it [...]

Printing spreads around the world

By |2018-04-23T15:45:45+00:00July 27th, 2017|Literature|

Qing dynasty court lady reading a handwritten scroll (probably 1700s AD) Printing with movable type first began in China about 1000 AD. It caught on when European printers combined movable type with the alphabet. By 1500 AD Europeans were printing everything they could think of, from Bibles to ancient Greek philosophy to advertising leaflets and posters. Jewish refugees from Spain brought [...]

History of printing – movable type

By |2018-05-09T23:10:23+00:00July 27th, 2017|China, Literature|

History of printing: Wong Jei's block-printed scroll, 868 AD Writing by hand For four thousand years after the invention of writing in Iraq, all writing was done by hand, a character at a time. When people needed a copy of a scroll, they had to pay a scribe to copy it out for them. Of [...]

Who invented paper? Ancient China and the history of paper

By |2018-11-30T09:37:38+00:00July 27th, 2017|China, Literature, Science|

History of paper: Early Chinese paper Paper invented in China Since the invention of writing, people had been trying to come up with something easier to write on than papyrus or parchment, and also something easier and cheaper to make. Read more about papyrus What is parchment made of? More ancient China articles But it took 3000 [...]

Early Japanese Literature

By |2018-04-23T15:32:41+00:00July 27th, 2017|Japan, Literature|

A copy of the Kojiki from the 1300s AD Just after 700 AD, the Japanese Empress Genmei ordered her staff to write and publish Japan's first history book, the Kojiki, and the first geography and botany book, the Fudoki. The recent invention of wood-block printing meant that people were publishing and reading a lot of books in nearby China, and Genmei [...]

Nara period – Early medieval Japan

By |2018-04-18T09:53:55+00:00July 27th, 2017|History, Japan|

Model of the Empress Genmei's imperial audience hall at Heijo, Nara Empress Genmei moved the capital of Japan to the new planned city of Nara in 710 AD. She wanted the move to help get more power into her own hands and out of the hands of other powerful Japanese families. Genmei succeeded in stopping [...]

Who invented playing cards? China

By |2018-04-20T08:23:52+00:00June 23rd, 2017|China, Games, What|

An early playing card (Ming Dynasty, ca. 1500 AD) People in T'ang Dynasty China made the first playing cards, about 800 AD. They used their new material, paper, to make the cards, and they called their game "the leaf game". The emperor's daughter, Princess Tongchang, played cards with her husband's family in the [...]

Science in ancient and medieval China

By |2018-05-28T00:10:52+00:00June 7th, 2017|China, Science|

Chinese science: a double-action piston box bellows (China) What are some Chinese inventions? Chinese scientists started inventing a lot of new things around 500 BC, during the Warring States period. That might be because of the formation of the first empires and the rise of the Silk Road. (More about the Silk Road) [...]

Early Chinese Literature – Poetry and War

By |2018-04-18T17:17:24+00:00June 6th, 2017|China, Literature|

Early Chinese literature: an oracle bone with Chinese characters written on it When did people start to write in China? People in China started to write about 1500 BC, more than a thousand years later than people in West Asia or Egypt, but earlier than anyone in Europe or Central America. It's possible they learned about writing [...]