File this under Why the heck have I never heard of this before?
The History Channel used to have a documentary series called "Ancient Discoveries," and in this episode they focus on some crazy Chinese naval technologies from centuries and even millennia ago.
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I know that you readers are at work and can't watch the entire 45-minute show, but I've isolated this short clip that I'm hoping you can sneak a glance at. It's about how way back in 289 A.D., the Chinese built this massive 600-foot by 600-foot-square warship, a veritable floating fortress, and sent it down a river to conquer a neighboring country:
I highly recommend you at least bookmark the video and maybe check it out when you get home. The documentarians get experts to recreate a lot of neat experiments demonstrating old-school Chinese naval technology, some of which is quite unbelievable. As one example, they recreate a design for an underwater mine described in an old Chinese text. The freaking thing is made from gunpowder, an incense stick, animal intestines to keep the fuse dry underwater, and rocks to sink the explosive charge beneath the surface of the water. Just mind-boggling stuff.