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By the Warring States period (403–221 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 (202 BC–AD 220).Scientific, mathematical or natural discoveries, changes in minor concepts of design or style and artistic innovations do not appear on the list.The following is a list of the Four Great Inventions—as designated by Joseph Needham (1900–1995), a British scientist, author and sinologist known for his research on the history of Chinese science and technology.The Chinese polymath Shen Kuo (1031–1095) of the Song Dynasty (960–1279) was the first to accurately describe both magnetic declination (in discerning true north) and the magnetic needle compass in his Dream Pool Essays of 1088, while the Song dynasty writer Zhu Yu (fl.12th century) was the first to mention use of the compass specifically for navigation at sea in his book published in 1119.

In the paper making process established by Cai in 105, a boiled mixture of mulberry tree bark, hemp, old linens and fish nets created a pulp that was pounded into paste and stirred with water; a wooden frame sieve with a mat of sewn reeds was then dunked into the mixture, which was then shaken and then dried into sheets of paper that were bleached under the exposure of sunlight; K. Tom says this process was gradually improved through leaching, polishing and glazing to produce a smooth, strong paper. Woodblock printing: The earliest specimen of woodblock printing is a single-sheet dharani sutra in Sanskrit that was printed on hemp paper between 650 and 670 AD; it was unearthed in 1974 from a Tang tomb near Xi'an.A Korean miniature dharani Buddhist sutra discovered in 1966, bearing extinct Chinese writing characters used only during the reign of China's only self-ruling empress, Wu Zetian (r.690–705), is dated no earlier than 704 and preserved in a Silla Korean temple stupa built in 751.Its gunpowder formulas describe the use of incendiary bombs launched from catapults, thrown down from defensive walls, or lowered down the wall by use of iron chains operated by a swape lever.