When Was the Rudder Invented?

The earliest mention of the ship rudder comes from an image on a piece of pottery which dates back to 1st century in China, during the Han Dynasty. This predates the introduction of the rudder in the Western world by about a thousand years.

Though the earliest recording of the stern-mounted rudder dates back to the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD), the device did not become popular until the 5th century, when it began to be used independently of steering oars. The oldest mention of the use of the rudder in Western civilization comes from a church carving which dates back to around the year 1180.