Land Surveying History Hub is a place for land surveyors to discuss and share surveying history for education of future generations of surveyors. As a member of this Hub, you can contribute to the Surveying History Timeline and help Build land surveying time capsules. Contribute what your experience and knowledge to the first ever interactive timeline of land surveying history.
The magnetic compass is an old Chinese invention, probably first made in China during the Qin dynasty (221-206 B.C.) Lodestones (a mineral composed of an iron oxide which aligns itself in a north-south direction) turned out to be better at pointing out real directions, leading to the first compasses. They designed the compass on a square slab which had markings for the cardinal points and the constellations. The pointing needle was a lodestone spoon-shaped device, with a handle that would always point south. Magnetized needles used as direction pointers instead of the spoon-shaped lodestones appeared in the 8th century AD, again in China, and between 850 and 1050 they seem to have become common as navigational devices on ships.