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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.It was completed in 1412, a long while after Liu's death, with a preface added by the Jiao in its Nanyang publication.

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In water-powered clockworks, the premodern Chinese had used the escapement mechanism since the 8th century and the endless power-transmitting chain drive in the 11th century.He attributed the innovation of reusable fired clay characters to a little-known artisan named Bi Sheng (990–1051).Bi had experimented with wooden type characters, but their use was not perfected until 1297 to 1298 with the model of the official Wang Zhen (fl.Example of a Chinese printed map in a gazetteer, showing Fengshan County of Taiwan Prefecture, published in 1696; the first known printed map from China comes from a Song Dynasty (960–1279) encyclopedia of the 12th century A cross section of a Chinese hall, from the Yingzao Fashi architectural treatise published by Li Jie in 1103, during the Song Dynasty (960–1279); this book explicitly laid out an eight-graded modular system of architecture for timber halls and pavilions of different sizes A plan and side view of a canal pound lock, essentially a double-gate canal lock used to regulate water levels in segmented canal chambers for the safe passage of ships, first invented by the 10th century engineer Qiao Weiyo for a section of China's Grand Canal The puddling process of smelting iron ore to make wrought iron from pig iron, the right half of the illustration (not shown) displays men working a blast furnace, Tiangong Kaiwu encyclopedia published in 1637, written by Song Yingxing (1587–1666).The British scientist, historian, and sinologist Joseph Needham writes that the development of the raised-relief map in China may have been influenced by Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) incense burners and jars such as this, showing artificial mountains as a lid decoration; these were often used to depict the mythical Penglai Island.

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