Su Song

Su Song

Su Song

Birth : 1020 nearQuanzhoucity

Death : 1101 (aged 80–81)

Personal Information

Name Su Song
Birth 1020 nearQuanzhoucity
Birth Place nearQuanzhoucity
Death (aged 80–81)
Died At

Word Cloud

Events Occured in Scienctist Life


Su Song's treatise about the clock tower, Xinyi Xiangfayao (新儀象法要), has survived since its written form in 1092 and official printed publication in 1094.


After serving in the Ministry of Personnel, he became a Minister of Justice in 1086.


He was appointed as a distinguished editor for the Academy of Scholarly Worthies, where in 1063 he edited, redacted, commented on, and added a preface for the classic work Huainanzi of the Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD).


In 1077, he was dispatched on a diplomatic mission to the Liao Dynasty of the Khitan people to the north, sharing ideas about calendrical science, as the Liao state had created its own calendar in 994 AD.


In 1081, the court instructed Su Song to compile into a book the diplomatic history of Song-Liao relations, an elaborate task that, once complete, filled 200 volumes.


In 1070, Su Song and a team of scholars compiled and edited the Bencao Tujing ('Illustrated Pharmacopoeia', original source material from 1058–1061), which was a groundbreaking treatise on pharmaceutical botany, zoology, and mineralogy.


Su Song's greatest project was the 40-foot-tall water-powered astronomical clock tower constructed in Kaifeng, the wooden pilot model completed in 1088, the bronze components cast by 1090, while the wholly finished work was completed by 1094 during the reign of Emperor Zhezong of Song.


The emperor ordered in 1086 for Su to reconstruct the hun yi, or "armillary clock", for a new clock tower in the capital city.


Years after Su's death, the capital city of Kaifeng was besieged and captured in 1127 by the Jurchens of the Manchuria-based Jin Dynasty during the Jin–Song wars.


When Su Song's Xinyi Xiangfayao was written in 1092 and the horological monograph finalized and presented in 1094, his work was published and widely printed in the north (see woodblock printing and movable type of Bi Sheng).


In 1956, John Christiansen reconstructed a model of Su Song's clocktower in a famous drawing, which garnered attention in the West towards 11th-century Chinese engineering.


In China, the clocktower was reconstructed to one-fifth its actual scale by Wang Zhenduo, who worked for the Chinese Historical Museum in Beijing in the 1950s.