The Oldest Encyclopedia

In 1403 the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty decided to have a vast encyclopedia created composed of all the knowledge the Chinese had at the time. Called the Yongle Encyclopedia, the collection is comprised of over 11,000 volumes on science, medicine, technology, religion, art, geography, and astronomy.

Although the original documents have been lost to history, the Jiajing Emperor had the entire encyclopedia copied in 1562. Today, much of this copy has also been lost and only 419 volumes have been accounted for.

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By Коллектив учёных Академии Хайлинь (翰林院) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons