Measuring Earthquakes During the Han Dynasty

When critics accuse the Chinese of stealing technology from the West, consider that China was the most technologically advanced nation in the world at one time. In fact, the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) put the Roman Empire (27 BC – 476 AD) to shame.

One example of China’s technological abilities was when the first seismograph was invented in 132 AD.  When Zhang Heng‘s device measured an earthquake in 134 AD, Zhang predicted the location. Han Ministers didn’t believe the scientist. Then a courier arrived and reported that an earthquake had taken place where Zhang said it did. For more information about Zhang Heng, see China Culture.

Zhang Heng's seismograph

In 1951, Chinese scientists from China’s National Museum worked on recreating Zhang Heng’s seismograph. Since there was a limited amount of information, it took until 2007 to complete the reconstruction.

In comparison, it wasn’t until the 18th century (AD) that there is any record that Western scientists worked on developing a seismograph.

Discover more about Earthquakes


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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2 Responses to Measuring Earthquakes During the Han Dynasty

  1. […] 132 AD, the first seismograph was invented, and in 134 AD the device measured its first earthquake that helped to accurately predict the […]

  2. […] Measuring Earthquakes During the Han Dynasty « iLook China […]

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