If we travel back thousand years from now, we will be amazed to see the store house of technical knowledge and wisdom that our ancestors possessed.
Emerging civilizations brought with them incredible advances and smart engineering that dominated the ancient world. Advancements triggered the adoption of new ways of living and governance, as well as new ways of getting through with the world. In achieving it all, many ancient inventions were forgotten and left to crumble in the pages of history, only to be re-invented millennia later.
We bring 14 of the best examples of ancient inventions and innovations that demonstrate the ingenuity of our ancestors.
1 The Wheel (5,000 BC)
Imagining the present world without wheels is really haunting. Undoubtedly it is one of the major inventions that helped in the technological development of human beings. Wheel has made transportation faster and easier, as well as helped to transform human agglomerations into larger cities.
Evidence suggests its use from about 3500 BC and comes from a sketch on a clay tablet, found in the region of ancient Sumer in Mesopotamia (now Iraq). The oldest wheels were found in archaeological explorations from about 3000 to 2000 BC in tombs of Mesopotamia. They were composed of three boards secured by cross-shaped supports, and the central board had a natural hole in the knot of wood.
The first major improvement over the original models was probably the placement of a wooden rim, which allowed a uniform wear of the wheel over its entire surface. Such a ring could be a single piece, made of wood curved with the aid of steam, or else of several mended segments. Five hundred years later the first metal hoops would emerge.
The spoke wheel appeared in Mesopotamia (present-day Turkey), and is used in chariots. Around 1500 BC, the Egyptians dominated the technology with the construction of wheels of four rays.
2 Twisted Rope (17,000 BC)
Another important part of our lives is the rope. Be it household, outdoor or infrastructure, it continues being an important part from time immemorial. The rope has been accompanying the evolution of civilization and technology for centuries. It allowed the construction of the Coliseum of Rome, the decoration of the Sistine Chapel, the conquest of K2 and the exploration of the abysses.
But when was the rope born? The earliest known rudimentary ropes were made of fibre and skin and date back to almost 20,000 years. However, the ancient Egyptians, as some inscriptions on the tombs of the pharaohs demonstrate, produced strings that in many respects were similar to the present ones and were composed of fibres of papyrus that were worked and braided around a staff. The first and important mechanical applications of the rope were around Nile. Other civilizations from America to Asia resorted to tendons and intestines of animals, horsehair, leaves and shrubs of birch, juniper and willow, and even human hair until the twisting rope made it all easier.
3 Musical Instruments (50,000 BC)
Music to most of us is an everyday need. It is indeed difficult imagining waking up daily and passing the day without even a slight of the stringy sounds or the monochromic keyboard clinks. Numerous musical instruments arose in the ancient times. In the Egyptian civilization, Flute and harp arose. Individually or together, they could be associated with the voice and the palms.
Egyptians have always liked music. They loved it well before the invention of any instrument, even when they only knew how to beat their hands to the beat of their voices. Through the centuries they have had varied and well-developed musical instruments.
The importance that the Egyptians gave to music in their daily life is attested by the great amount of musical instruments that were found by the archaeologists, most carefully and individually wrapped in cloth, often engraved with the names of their owners and that today can be seen in museums from all over the world. It is must to say that had there been no Egyptian civilization in record, we would have been struggling hard to gain all that we have achieved in music.
4 The Boat (60,000 BC)
Man has sailed since prehistory and back then there had been no “Father of Navigation.” Sailing has independently emerged in various parts of the world at different times. There are records of sailing vessels about 4,000 years BC. The ship as we know it today is the result of innovation (for millennia) of the first boat that was probably a tree trunk that ancestors held to avoid drowning.
5 Bows and Arrows
War and defense today is one of the most important part of a Government’s external affair propaganda. New arms and ammunition are not the matter of the past, but bows and arrows are. It may seem to be a thing of reel life but it existed in real life too. Not just India but abroad too. Roughly 64,000 years ago Africans first used bows and arrows. People who invented are lost in the time shrouds. In the early years arches were relatively simple subjects to be constructed from a pliable and tied wood with a rope made of animal intestine. Arrows, too, were relatively simple which required a relatively simple organ (called the shaft), a stone tip and feathers for stability while firing. The bow and arrow allowed the humans to kill someone at a great distance with a good degree of precision.
6 Clothing (500,000 – 100,000 BC)
During the Paleolithic era man invented one of the most fantastic discoveries in history: Clothing. Through the millennia, development and manufacture of long and resistant yarns took place. Clothing protected humanity in extremely cold environments and became a powerful tool for the construction of human identity, ratifying values and beliefs before the social groups and proving that clothing is an intrinsic part of every way of life.
The earliest evidence of clothing made of vegetable fibre dates back to 6,500 BC and was found in the wall painting of Nahal Nemar cave in Israel: a woven linen bag, tangle with needle and containing stone buds, which would probably indicate it to be a ceremonial hat.
7 Housing (500,000 BC)
Houses today are a mark of one’s identity and social and economic status. They serve the basic need of the shelter. Egyptians used timber and papyrus reeds to build their houses. In all of Egyptian society, the size and quality of the material used depended on the social class to which the family belonged. This also included the gods, who had their houses (temples) according to their popularity.
The main raw material used for the construction of most houses and even of palaces was adobe – clay brick – dried in the sun. They used stones to serve as a base for the columns that were basically made of wood, just like the roofs. The entrance of the sun, which illuminated the houses, was provided by the windows that used to be near the ceiling.
8 Fire (1,000,000 BC)
The first natural energy used by man intentionally was fire and thus it might be the oldest ancient invention. Fire helped the prehistoric in cooking food, lighting places, warming up and protection from animals. The Paleolithic Age (between one and two million years ago) witnessed the unprecedented use of fire by man. Between 1.8 million and 300 thousand years ago, Homo Erectus, a being with the most evolved reasoning, discovered that if he rubbed two rocks against one another, he could produce a spark which would catch fire normally.
9 Knife (2,500,000 – 1,400,000 BC)
The knife is the oldest of the cutlery. Homo Erectus, which appeared on Earth 1.5 million years ago, created the first cut stone for hunting and defense.
In the Bronze Age (3000 BC), it was made with this metal and used to kill or peel fruits. The first to suggest that every man should have a flatware to be used exclusively at the table was the French cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), a fervent advocate of good manners, around 1630. There are archaeological records of artefacts similar to over 20,000 years old, made of wood, stone and ivory.
10 Mining (43,000 BC)
No doubt, Mining had been invented in ancient times. Gold, copper, and turquoise were some of the minerals that the ancient Egyptians extracted and used in order to produce magnificent works of art. Gold was abundant in the eastern desert, a vast region of mountainous rocks, nestled between the Nile and the Red Sea, a source of many minerals and hard stones used in large quantities by the ancient craftsmen.
These ores were located in several areas, mainly along the coast of the Red Sea. The main one found in Egypt was the galena, lead sulfide, which was used in the manufacture of the old eye paint, the kohl, since the pre-dynastic era. It was mainly used for making small objects of daily use, such as ballast for fishing nets,
11 Sewing Needles (30,000 BC)
The earliest records of the use of sewing needle by our ancestors date back to prehistory about 20,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. The oldest needles were made of bones or thin strips of leather or dry guts. The invention of the metal needles were only found from the 3rd century BC, in Manching, Germany, a region occupied by the Celts.
From the earliest times to the present day, the basic format of hand sewing needles has not been modified, but the materials and tip types for these needles have evolved according to their purpose.
12 Hafted Axes 30,000 BC
According to scientists, the oldest axe was a small fragment of stone discovered in Australia. It is between 46,000 and 49,000 years old. This is what we are supposing the invention of ancient hafted axes are much more older than we think.
The piece of rock is about the size of a big toe nail, but researchers say it’s enough to make sure it belongs to an axe with a handle. According to experts, the fragment belonged to the cutting edge of the object and was polished from a material too heavy to have been sustained without a cable probably made of wood.
13 Basket Weaving 12,000 BC
Weaving is known to be one of the oldest craft forms invention still present today.
About 12,000 years ago, in the Neolithic Age, the first men used the weaving principle. They intertwined small branches to build barriers, shields, or baskets. Spider web or bird’s nest may have been the sources of such work inspiration. Since this technique was already known it is very likely that primitive man began to use new materials to produce the first rustic fabrics, and later, clothing.
The exact date of origin has not yet been defined by scholars.
Archaeological excavations have found material made of spun and intertwined fibres, but these fabrics are very coarse and are more like baskets of work. The oldest example of fabric discovered in Europe, on the Danish coast, dates from the end of the Mesolithic Age, between 4600 and 3200 BC. The discoveries in Peru, high in the Sierra del Norte are much older.
14 Agriculture 10,000 BC
Ancient world as well as the modern day world depends largely on agriculture. Talking of our economy, food or occupation, agriculture has been a strong backbone from a very long time. Such activities are well known from several scenes left by past civilizations in the paintings and murals of the tombs. Peasantry formed the majority of the population and therefore, the basis of the labour force for this task. Religion permeated every aspect of everyday Egyptian life and agriculture could not be different. Every year the priests held ceremonies that were supposed to guarantee the arrival of the flood. Pharaoh, for his part, solemnly thanked the abundant harvest for the right deities.