THE MECHANISM OF CHINA'S SOUTH-POINTING CARRIAGE

H. D. Garner

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: Early man was an inveterate traveler, and he often encountered situations in which natural landmarks and directional references failed him. His first successful attempts to devise an artificial heading reference to aid him in his journeys are generally conceded to have been made in ancient China. References to these instruments in original texts are sparse and confusing, and are sometimes attributed to legend rather than to fact. The “south pointer” mentioned in these writings was thought by early researchers to refer to the magnetic compass, but modern scholars feel that there have been errors in interpretation, and that the magnetic compass was not invented until a much later era. This paper describes the design and construction of a working model of a south pointing carriage based upon a reasonable conjecture as to the working principles of the original instrument. Clues derived from ancient texts were used where applicable.
Published in: NAVIGATION, Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 40, Number 1
Pages: 9 - 18
Cite this article: Garner, H. D., "THE MECHANISM OF CHINA'S SOUTH-POINTING CARRIAGE", NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 40, No. 1, Spring 1993, pp. 9-18.
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