What were the most advanced medieval civilizations

Feb 2011
Also note that the above calculations for dibbling used a high sowing rate of 1.5 bushels (55 liters) per acre for wheat, and gave pretty significant returns over broadcasting even after calculating the higher cost of sowing for dibbling. What the author didn't take into account is the lower cost of labour in weeding that results from dibbling, as planting in rows most noticeably makes weeding easier. This would partially offset the higher cost of labour in sowing.

Burows of Norfolk also experimented with comparing dibbling vs broadcasting wheat, but he used a much lower sowing rate of 2 pecks per acre for dibbling (18.18 liters per acre). Despite the higher cost of sowing, the advantages in output, saved seeds, and easier weeding more than offsets this:

The profit difference against broadcasting (20 s per acre vs 2.5 s per acre) is vastly smaller, but both experiments still show greater profit for dibbling wheat than broadcasting it even if accounting for the cost of labour in sowing seed. The smaller profit difference is at least partially due to the much lower sowing rate he used (55 liters vs 18 liters per acre).

Note that the Qin guideline for sowing wheat was in between these numbers at 35 liters per acre:
Sowing: for rice and hemp per mu use 2 2/3 tou; for wheat and barley per mu 1 tou; for millet and red beams per mu 2/3 tou; for peas per mu 1/2 tou. If profitable use is made of the fields, it is permissible that some do not fully have this quantity. When there are roots, (these fields) are to be sown according to the circumstances. - Remnants of Ch'in Law: An Annoted Translation of Ch'in Legal and Administrative Rules of the 3rd Century B.C. Discovered in Yün-meng Prefecture .... by Anthony Francois Paulus Husewe

I've also ventured into an incorrect statement that's sometimes used as sourcing:

Yet a student of the Chinese technology of the early twentieth century remarks that even a generation ago the Chinese had not 'reached that stage where continuous rotary motion is substituted for reciprocating motion in technical contrivances such as the drill, lathe, saw, etc. To take this step familiarity with the crank is necessary. The crank in its simple rudimentary form we find in the [modern] Chinese windlass, which use of the device, however, has apparently not given the impulse to change reciprocating into circular motion in other contrivances'. In China the crank was known, but remained dormant for at least nineteen centuries, its explosive potential for applied mechanics being unrecognized and unexploited. ----Medieval Technology and Social Change, Oxford: At the Clarendon Press

This is incorrect though. Considering that the Chinese converted reciprocating motion into circular motion or vice versa through a number of machinery from ancient to Medieval times:


Grain Sifter:

Grain Sifter:

Blast Furnace:

Crank and "Treadle" Spinning Wheel on the right, can't tell for the left:
Here is another example of converting reciprocating motion to rotary motion:

Painting by Liang Kai of the Song dynasty, showing a silk reeling machine using two crank and connecting rods and what would be a belt drive.

To see how the machine worked, see the following video:

Last edited:
Nov 2013
Another abstract thread to show 'look how much I know about Chinese dynasties'.

True, I can't stand pretentious posters either. One of them even thinks themselves as an expert in Iberian history while knowing little about Iberian intellectual culture. Even their understanding of the political and military history of Ibera is marred by lack of proper cross-comparison.

Seriously, does this forum just attract jerks or something?

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