The Lost Knowledge of the Ancients: Were Humans the First? Part 3: Science in Antiquity
The achievements by modern science are phenomenal. But with our background of spaceships, skyscrapers, wonder drugs, and atomic reactors we are apt to minimize the scientific accomplishments of the ancients. This is a mistake.
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Dealing with Traffic Issues
The peoples of the past had many of the problems which confront us today and they sometimes solved them in almost the same manner. For example, ancient Romans would change some street arteries to one-way traffic during peak hours. The people of Pompeii also used arm waving traffic police to cope with rush hours.
Street signs with curious names were used in Babylon 2,500 years ago. One example was, the Street on which no Enemy may ever tread . At Nineveh, the following ‘no parking’ signs were also displayed: Royal Road- let no man obstruct it. The signs were certainly more efficient than ours because instead of parking fine tickets, chariot owners who disobeyed them got a death warrant.
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- The Lost Knowledge of the Ancients: Were Humans the First? Part 1
The ancient city of Antioch was the site of the first street lighting in history. And the Aztecs set a permanent colored strip directly into the paved road to divide the two lines of traffic. Our streets and highways usually only have painted lines to separate the lines of traffic.
Heron, an engineer of Alexandria, built a steam engine which embodied the principles of both turbine and jet propulsion. If it were not for the repeated burnings of the Alexandrian Library, we might have had a story about a steam-chariot in Egypt. At least we know that Heron also invented a speedometer registering the distance travelled by a vehicle.
City Planning and Heating
Excavations at Mohenjo Daro, Harappa, and Kalibanga in Pakistan and India have disclosed the surprising fact that a system of town-planning was in operation 4,500 years ago. The streets of these ancient cities were straight and had rectangular blocks. A superior water supply and water drainage system were also discovered.
Ruins of Mohenjo Daro. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )
These cities were built with kiln-fired bricks. Because of their strength, they were also used by the British in the construction of the railroad bed on the Karachi-Lahore line more than 100 years ago. It is also remarkable that bricks manufactured today in Mohenjo Daro are made according to prototypes from the ruins. This demonstrates that technology had reached a peak in the distant and unsuspected past of India and for some reason progressed no further. From then on everything was done in imitation of the old techniques.
Central or hot-water heating was invented by Bonnemain at the end of the 17th century and perfected by Duvoir. Yet 4,000 years before these European inventors, wealthy Koreans had Spring Rooms warmed by hot air which circulated in vents under the floors. Ancient Romans used heating of a similar kind. During the Middle Ages, the scientific devices of antiquity were forgotten and the people of Europe had to shiver for many a century.
A hypocaust (Latin hypocaustum) in the Roman Baths, Bath, UK. A hypocaust is an ancient Roman system of central heating. The word literally means "heat from below", from the Greek hypo meaning below or underneath, and kaiein, to burn or light a fire. (Ad Meskens/ CC BY SA 3.0 )
Decorative Features for Homes and Bodies
The prehistoric city of Catal Höyük in Turkey is over 9,500 years old. Pieces of carpet have been found in the ruins which were of so high quality that they compare favorably with the most beautiful ones woven today. No savant in the last century would have attributed such an age to these carpets.
The beautiful head of Sumerian Queen Shub-ad (Puabi) displayed in the British Museum shows that a long time ago people were very much like us. The lovely young lady wears an amazingly modern wig, large earrings, and necklace. The sophisticated girl who used cosmetics, a wig, and expensive jewelry died in a ritual suicide in 2,900 BC – 2,150 years before the traditional founding of Rome.