© 2007

Reconstruction Designs of Lost Ancient Chinese Machinery

  • The first book of its kind, with a totally unique approach to both ancient and future machinery


Part of the History Of Mechanism And Machine Science book series (HMMS, volume 3)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Pages 1-18
  3. Pages 19-41
  4. Pages 199-268
  5. Pages 269-302
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 303-309

About this book


Ancient China was outstanding in mechanical technology before the 15th century. Numerous ingenious machines were invented. However, due to incomplete documentation and loss of finished objects, most of the original machines cannot be verified and many of the inventions did not pass down to later generations. This book, based on the author’s research and teaching experiences over the last 20 years, is devoted to presenting an innovative methodology in the area of mechanical historiography for the systematic reconstruction design of ancient Chinese machines that have been lost to time. Its purpose is to generate all possible design concepts of lost machines. If the defined and/or concluded design specifications, topological characteristics, and - sign requirements and constraints are feasible, one of the resulting rec- struction designs should be the original design. Such an approach provides a logical tool for historians in ancient mechanical engineering and techn- ogy to further identify the possible original designs according to proven historical archives. However, this work will not deal with the credibility of historical literary works. It supposes that the lost machines existed, and tries to demonstrate the feasibility of reconstructing the lost designs. The book is organized in such a way that it can be used for teaching, research or self-study. Chapter 1 introduces the study, classifications, and process for the reconstruction design of ancient machinery.


chinese ancient machinere design development history of engineering joints mechanism mechanism design

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.National Cheng Kung University70101Taiwan

About the authors

Professor Hong-Sen YAN received his BS degree from National Cheng Kung University (Tianan, Taiwan) in 1973, MS degree from the University of Kentucky (Lexington, Kentucky, USA) in 1977, and PhD degree from Purdue University (Lafayette, Indiana, USA) in 1980, all in mechanical engineering.

He previously served as a mechanical engineer at China Technical Consultants Co. Ltd. (Taipei), an Associate Professor at National Cheng Kung University (Tainan), a Sr. Research Engineer at General Motor Research Laboratories (Michigan), an Associate Professor at the State University of New York at Stony Book (New York), and the Director-general of the National Science and Technology Museum (Kaohsiung). Currently, he is a Chair Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at National Cheng Kung University (Tainan, TAIWAN) and an Associate Editor of both the International Journal of Mechanism and Machine Theory and ASME Transactions Journal of Mechanical Design.

Dr. Yan’ s areas of interests are creative mechanism and machine design and ancient Chinese machinery. He has published more than 275 papers, holds 48 patents, and is the author of 3 books. Dr. Yan received many honors and academic awards inside and outside Taiwan, and he has a hobby of collecting ancient Chinese Locks.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Reconstruction Designs of Lost Ancient Chinese Machinery
  • Authors Hong-Sen Yan
  • Series Title History Of Mechanism And Machine Science
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Engineering Engineering (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-4020-6459-3
  • Softcover ISBN 978-90-481-7648-9
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-4020-6460-9
  • Series ISSN 1875-3442
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XII, 309
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Machinery and Machine Elements
    History of Science
    Mechanical Engineering
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
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From the reviews:

“Always based on original sources, with a wealth of illustrations and translations of difficult Chinese classical texts, this outstanding book is particularly original. … a wide extant of difficult topics belonging to the history of technology has never been covered in such a systematic way and by using a unified methodology.” (J.-C. Martzloff, Zentralblatt MATH, Vol. 1181, 2010)