The magnetic compass is an old Chinese invention, probably first made in China during the Qin dynasty (221-206 B.C.). The first instruments used lodestones to point out real directions, it is only in 8th century A.D., again in China, that magnetized needles were also used as a navigational device.
While the compass first appeared in China, it was also an instrument used in the Islamic world and is mentioned in a Persian tale book from 1232.The earliest reference to a compass comes from the Yemeni sultan and astronomer Al-Ashraf in 1282. He appears to be the first to make use of the compass for astronomical purposes. In the 14th century, Arab navigators introduced the compass rose as common device.
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