First published in 1969.
The historical civilization of China is, with the Indian and European-Semitic, one of the three greatest in the world, yet only relatively recently has any enquiry been begun into its achievements in science and technology. Between the first and fifteenth centuries the Chinese were generally far in advance of Europe and it was not until the scientific revolution of the Renaissance that Europe drew ahead. Throughout those fifteen centuries, and ever since, the West has been profoundly affected by the discoveries and invention emanating from China and East Asia.
In this series of essays and lectures, Joseph Needham explores the mystery of China's early lead and Europe's later overtaking.