Ten Things the Ancients Did Better than Us

Ten Things the Ancients Did Better than Us

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Just a couple of decades ago, the people of ancient civilizations were viewed as simple, primitive people.  However, numerous discoveries since then have revealed a number of surprising facts about ancient cultures, namely that many of them possessed advanced knowledge of metallurgy, mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, and more. With this knowledge they forged steel stronger than anything else seen until the Industrial Revolution, created a recipe for concrete so durable that their buildings would endure for millennia longer than the constructions of today, cut stones and assembled walls so precisely that attempts at modern-day replications have failed. Scientists are still scratching their heads over some of the amazing accomplishments of ancient civilizations. Here we feature ten of them.

1. Aqueducts and hydro technology

Aqueducts and hydro technology

Who would have thought that 21 st century governments would be looking to 1,500-year-old technology for guidance on how to solve water access problems? But that is exactly what is happening in Lima, Peru.

Peru has been facing a severe water crisis as chronic problems, such as polluted water supplies, and environmental change combine to undermine the water security of the entire country. However, a new plan has been put forward by Lima’s water utility company, Sedapal, to revive an ancient network of stone canals that were built by the Wari culture as early as 500 AD, in order to supply the population with clean, unpolluted water.

The Wari built an advanced water conservation system that captured mountain water during the rainy season via canals. The canals transported the water to places where it could feed into springs further down the mountain, in order to maintain the flow of the rivers during the dry season.

Many ancient civilizations are known for their advanced construction of cisterns, canals, aqueducts, and water channelling technology, including the Persians, Nabataeans, Romans, Greeks, Harrapans, and many more.

2. Steel

Steel Sword

Over 2,000 years ago, ancient people in the Levant were forging swords made of steel so advanced that blacksmiths would not come close to creating anything of equal quality until modern times. The metal was so strong that the swords could slice straight through objects made of other metals.

The steel, known as Damascus steel, was produced out of a raw material, known as Wootz steel, from Asia. Other materials were added during the steel’s production to create chemical reactions at the quantum level. It was first used around 300 BC, but was produced en masse in the Middle East between 1100 and 1700 AD.

The secret of making the Middle East’s Damascus Steel only re-emerged under the inspection of scanning electron microscopes in modern laboratories.  

3. Concrete

Roman Concrete

Today’s concrete structures are typically designed to last between 100 and 120 years. However, the Romans built structures from concrete 2,000 years ago that have maintained their structural integrity to this day. So what was their secret?

The Romans made concrete by mixing lime, volcanic rock, and seawater. The combination of the three instantly triggered a chemical reaction in which the lime incorporated molecules into its structure and reacted with the ash to cement the whole mixture together.  The ancient seawater concrete contains the ideal crystalline structure of Tobermorite, which has a greater strength and durability than the modern equivalent.

As well as being more durable, Roman concrete was also more environmentally-friendly compared to today’s concrete. Conventional modern cement requires heating a mix of limestone and clay to 1,450 degrees Celsius which releases significant amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. In contrast, Roman cement used much less lime and made it from baking limestone at 900 degrees Celsius, requiring much less fuel.

4. Road-building

Ancient Road Building

These days, we’d be lucky to get a decent highway built within a year. But it was not always this way. Ancient people recognized the importance of roads and networks linking together cities and settlements across regions and countries… and they built them fast! 

Qhapaq Nan, otherwise known as the Main Andean Road, is a huge network of roads once used by the mighty Inca Empire that extends over more than 30,000 kilometres. It was the backbone of the Inca Empire’s political and economic power, connecting production, administrative, and ceremonial centres of pre-Inca Andean culture. The Incas of Cuzco achieved this unique infrastructure on a grand scale in less than a century, extending their vast network across what is now Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

The Romans too are known as expert road builders. About 1.7 million square miles of territory was covered by the Roman roads, which were made with gravel, dirt, and bricks made from granite and hard lava. Many ancient roads are still used today.


I noticed you have Roman roads and aqueducts mixed in with the constructions of the people before the Maya's and Aztec's? Steel? We should for the sake of our children and their future which doesn't look very good right now. For the future we should differentiate from what we were taught in our time back there in the Public Schools, about humans being new to the Earth, about pyramids and constructions in Central America being done by Egyptians and Maya's and Aztec's. People who had no tools nor idea of how to do what was done, then. Done, by an advanced civilization, maybe tens or hundreds of thousands of years old. Even, the giants of that day. If we are to advance another step forward we must look back at the past with new ideas and with the truth taking precedent. It doesn't hurt to say I don't know, what hurts is the lie that tries to explain the impossible.

agree , Romans cement use was due to the availability of volcanic dust , aluminum within the dust is responsible for the watertight effect, you are right saying Egypt and Peru should be set apart these construction were not done by humans , the technological level of hard rock cutting surpassed what we can do today , possibly aliens the best were in Puma Punku with fantastic craftsmanship

I had to laugh at your use of the word "craftsmanship" since it denotes "man" when you clearly think aliens are responsible. It's not that I doubt the existence of aliens, it's that I doubt their intent. A space fairing race would need vast amounts of resources to be well space fairing. Meaning to reach us they would need to extract a large amount of resources to move on so it really makes no sense that they would take a bit help out the natives then leave. Also even if there are good matured aliens you can bet there are not so nice ones. So why is it we never see any effects of the latter? It's always some benign beings with only good intent towards us. Yes it may be that they no longer need those resources but by that point in their development they don't need anything and would certainly see the downside of any interaction with other far far lesser animals.

One final question is why is it so difficult to believe these people were much better at doing what they did everyday all day as we are at doing it? At least as good as what we do? Yes our tech is better but 95% of the crap we put out will be useless in 15 to 20 years. Many naturally think we do everything better. I do not believe this and feel credit should be given where credit is due. To the people that did it. In fact that's all they did. No TV, internet, shopping or any of the other activities we think so important today. The rock cutter had one job, to cut rocks all day everyday. The reason we can't figure out how they did it is because no one has ever sat down for 10 or 15 years and thought about nothing but getting a pile of rocks to fit together.

Plus if alien were actually here to help why do you suppose they would do it for us? Build a wall that they knew the natives could not repeat. It's as if your suggesting they trolled the natives. "Here let me show you how to do that........well of course you can't do it we are aliens."

So what was their intent? Because when you consider what happened to those tribes and places that everyone says aliens visited, so far it doesn't look like they taught them anything of value. Certainly not how to save themselves from any real crisis.

You need to read "Voices from Legendary Times by Ellen Lloyd to get a broader understanding of what You are talking about.....

I'm sorry but exactly how am I going to get a "broader" understanding from a book that is clearly narrow in focus. Broad understanding comes from forming an opinion from as many different types of source material as possible. If one reads from either a single source or single genre their understanding is by default narrow and uninformed.

As for your suggestion, I find no real listing of her credentials anywhere. 12 years researching..... Researching what? What are her sources? Where does her expertise lay. Does she have a degree in anything or is it experience and if it's a real degree is it from a reliable institute. What I do find is an opinion of alien involvement on just about everything you can throw that label on. If that were even 50% accurate the evidence would be so overwhelming ignoring or hiding it would be impossible. The examples that I looked at from the book have been debunked over and over again. Common sense is all that's needed for most of them. When an author focuses on everything or is controversial for the sake of controversy it screams money grab. Just because a book is published doesn't mean it's research worth reading. That goes for mainstream publications as well.

If your going to make a suggestion at least make it from a reasonably reliable source. Better yet offer up your own opinion then support it with reasonable evidence that you have personally researched. Common sense proof it and you'll be much farther ahead then Voices from Legendary Times. I am reasonable and would much rather hear someone's heart felt belief on a topic then 2nd hand highly questionable drivel.

In my 50+ years of life filled with a love of both space, sci-fi and history I have read more then enough Chariots Of The Gods like publications to give it due consideration and have acquired a true "broad" understanding of the topic. As such I do not dismiss any possibility until the proof or argument in it's favor is or becomes erroneous, a personal opinion or just plain nonsense. Spectacular claims require spectacular proof. It's that simple.

Although it may be far more interesting to find proof that an alien civilization had influenced our past the evidence says different. I have never seen an example of claims alien influence that could not be described through other more realistic means or simply failed a common sense approach. Anyone who claims they have such proof always manages to selectively include evidence that supports their claim while ignoring the glaring inconsistencies. All evidence needs to be considered. To do otherwise only dilutes something that might actually be proof. In other words it is a disservice to those of us who might give weight to such evidence but only see the ridiculous in current claims.

I'll also repeat my earlier sentiment. It is also a disservice and frankly insulting to dismiss the incredible accomplishments of those that lived during these times.

"Thank God for the aliens. If not for them ancient civilizations would have stayed in their caves drawing with charcoal". Horse shit. They were every bit as accomplished at doing what they did as we are now.

[...] Also even if there are good matured aliens you can bet there are not so nice ones. So why is it we never see any effects of the latter?

Good bet. If anyone is interested in the "not so nice ones" please contact me.

We have insider witnesses that we want to testify in a U.S. federal court -- about what they've been up to.
If you want an overview, and possibly contribute to this project, you can contact me at
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Even today, I favor the 50 year old hand tools for furniture making to the newer versions made with less attention. It's as if time does not necessarily mean advanced.

And if we answer why and how they did these and other things better than us it gets interesting. They also possessed a mind/consciousness/matter interface. They also used there golden pituitary and pineal glands affording them fantastic levels of consciousness over our crippled states today. They left us the Caduceus Symbol showing us who to activate these magnificent onboard resources.
They utilized their brains as transmitters and receivers where we are biolinear computing. From the higher bandwidth states appreciated the dimensionality of the extended reality model. This also provided a basis for harmony where we in our limited state are doomed to discord and entropy. To learn more on activating your golden glands go to: http://fukushima50.blogspot.ca/2011/03/on-becoming-sovereign-being_2906....

Intersesting article.
No mention of glass found in India possibly indicating the use of nuclear weapons.
The death ray is bullshit, no tech to support it.
And our telescopes and now machine learning can process more data than any human possibly could.

The purpose of this article was to point out that ancient cultures were able to achieve a level of astronomical knowledge without the tools. As far as the glass is concern, India is not the only place, the great desert in California has shown some similar glass.

The reason the death ray worked in Greece, is because the sun rays are more intense there. Hollywood cameramen have always been baffled why there light readings in the sun there register twice the brightness of California.

Making cements with plant extracts.



Although not reported in Bello Gallico by Caesar, if the Roman army could advance so quickly when invading the Gauls, it simply because the Celts were aware of their importance and had them build on their own.

In a word the ancients were more ADVANCED than we are today. Mainstream archaeology still clings to its linear advancement meme. Civilization and humanity are cyclical; rising to heights and being destroyed by natural cataclysm. Get over it ‘scientists’ you’ll never know how the Inca built those walls until you use the technology they used, and stop all this rubbing and fitting nonsense.


That's what I've been saying.

The reason that we can't understand how ancient people with no technology, machinery or even decent tools could have accomplished what they seem to have been able to do is very simple. They didn't do it. They occupied and used what was available to them from before a near extinction event occurred. Some of what they were able to use had become exposed by time and erosion. I think that long before that time the world population had grown way beyond what we currently think is possible for our planet to support. With the methods in use today there is simply not enough room for all of the housing, industry, and agriculture required to support a population of that size. The most important consideration to be able to support an extremely large population would be the ability to provide enough food. There is no way to work around the fact that agriculture requires sunlight and a reliable source of water. There needed to be a way to have enough room for all of the people and a way to ensure a reliable source for all of the food that was needed. Pyramids are the key to understanding how that problem was solved. In places where erosion has exposed them the visible evidence varies depending on how much has been exposed and eroded. In spite of that fact if you spend a little time comparing them they leave behind very identifiable "footprints" as they erode away. Evidence in this video suggests that a pyramid was an architectural support. The steps of a pyramid supported levels for habitation and industry below the surface. Other functions that appear to have been incorporated into their designs include control of networked irrigation and drainage systems and access to other levels. The methods in use at that time would solve many of the problems that we face today as well as other problems that we have not yet had to deal with. Terrible storms, flooding, droughts, fires, inadequate food production, expensive climate control, and high insurance costs from damages to name a few off the top of my head. If a surplus of water occurred, it would flow into the networked irrigation and drainage systems, be stored in above and below ground reservoirs, and used when needed. The worst damage that could occur would be localized crop damage from some types of storms. There appear to have been both dome shaped and long rows of surface structures that are eroding away, with interior divisions being exposed by wind and water erosion. There are places with erosion occurring by levels that are loaded with the type of "footprints" that pyramids leave behind, as well as fractures in the surface of the higher ground in the surrounding areas that lead to evidence of being artificially supported. Some of the most interesting places to examine are where it seems that one layer is eroding away and exposing another. Especially if the surface that is eroding away has features that do not appear to have been naturally formed.

Random thoughts: The longest North/South line at the bottom of the Pacific is 8 to 10 miles wide (So are the intersecting ones) and can be followed for 2,100 miles in a perfect line. The symmetry of some of the underwater mounds is amazing. Pick out a perfect looking 20 mile in diameter mound. If you anchor Google Earth's measuring tool in the right place you can go the same distance in any direction and be at almost exactly the same depth. The similarity of circular formations in different sizes on land is obvious, including the location of possible supports around the outside diameter in predictable locations. Evidence at Easter island and at Train rock (which follows Easter island in the video) appear to support that possibility. What is left at Stonehenge could be the center support structure of an ancient dome shaped building, there is another location that looks very similar to Stonehenge but has not been exposed. The material used for construction was not quarried, finished to size, and set in place, it was poured. Today the binding agents are separating from the sedimentary material and being carried to lower levels by the flow of water. There are similarities between the large statues at Easter island and columns found in ancient ruins that could mean that the natives of Easter island carved existing ruins there to make the statues. It is very likely that Ankor Wat was created out of what was left of an eroding pyramid. There are pyramids in Australia. The evidence of ancient East/West irrigation channels around the Okavango delta in South Africa covers approximately 500 by 700 miles. What can be seen at Gobekli Tepe appears to support the possibility of habitation below the agriculture. Machu Picchu is just a small example of that type of evidence. We've wondered why we can't find evidence of what hit the ground in Crater national park but never wondered how it could blast a square hole in the ground. I suspect our near extinction event may have been similar to what happened at Tunguska in 1908, but on a much larger scale. Large enough to fracture the Earths crust, push part of it down into the molten core, and tilt the Earths axis.


Your example video is interesting in only one detail. "Undeniable Proof" That is the label given to it's evidence by Gary Schoenung, John Jensen and others like them. There is absolutely no such thing as "undeniable proof". When someone uses that term it's a red flag screaming (not quite) undeniable proof or any proof to the contrary is meaningless. All proof must stand the test of it's claims and counter claims. These clearly are creative to the uninformed but with a bit of research into construction you find them seriously lacking in anything undeniable.

As for the idea "The material used for construction was not quarried, finished to size, and set in place, it was poured.". One seriously glaring issue would be the lack of other construction projects. Humans love to build shit. We love to build as much shit as we can, as fast as we can. So why isn't there more of this type of construction? The Romans did it. They couldn't stop. Your not seriously suggesting that there is more it's just all under water are you? I would be very curious where you get your data from as 75% of the ocean's bottom is not accurately mapped and the only images we have are a computer's interpretation of the data. Another words of course there will be large areas that look symmetric. That's how computers see things. Using Google Maps compounds that 10 fold.

The "Undeniable proof" comment is in a video that I had nothing to do with. The underwater footage comprises a small part of the beginning of the video and includes a few things that I am sure you have no explanation for. My only goal was to make people curious and I've accomplished that. Annoying people with small minds is an unintended bonus.

My comment wasn't only regarding the underwater evidence. As for the "small minds" crack
I can only assume that it was directed at me. Small mindedness usually comes from those unable to have articulate an idea with common sense intelligent dialog and must resort to personal attacks like referring to someone as small minded. Not to mention the fact that it's ridiculous to call anyone who would bother to visit this site and attempt to have a conversation about one of the topics here as "small minded".

As for being annoyed I think you overestimate yourself quite a bit believing you annoyed anyone as I am decidedly not. Although I do enjoy a spirited debate and enjoy even more learning something I did not know before during the exchange it looks as if that's not possible so I wish you a good day sir.

The question remains did early advanced humans perform these incredible feats or did they have help from aliens? It could also be the case where from today’s severely limited state of human consciousness, we are projecting these limits on our ancestors. It is hubris to think of ourselves today and the pinnacle of consciousness.

Apparently their language skills were better as well. The title of the article should read "Ten Things the Ancients Did Better than We" if I remember my 4th grade English lessons.

Thx That explains a lot as I don't remember anything from 4th grade :).

ancient-origins's picture

Actually both are correct. The word ‘than’ is classified both as a conjunction and as a preposition, so either can be used. However, ‘than us’ is generally considered a more natural way of writing, while 'than we’ can sound a bit odd, old-fashioned and pretentious. That’s why we chose the former. 


Yes,it is time to wake up and smell the coffee,time does erase a lot and lets face it,we forget easily.Due to the efforts of people like Cremo and Thompson,things are starting to take on a different hue,the scary part is,if we find out there have been many advanced civilizations,before the current one-we stand to fall just as hard.Is it axiomatic?Can our species not stand together long enough to make the leap?No wonder the writer of of the science fiction thriller"Prometheus" cast the Proto Humans as wanting to wipe us out(if we ever break out of this cage-watch out universe)-Kevin

In deed we've crawled out of the cave a few time. The discouraging aspect of this is the ancients apparently had much higher bandwidth conscious tools to work with (we have none of that going on) and they failed. Basically we are hooped.

Irregular-shaped blocks were used in these constructions because in earthquakes different shapes and sizes of stones limit the spread of vibrations to the stones around them. In uniform brickwork like our own, if the vibrations reach a given frequency, they will transmit across the whole structure because the frequency which vibrates one brick vibrates them all, and it is much more likely to collapse it.

The weakness in our brickwork would be the mortar which would probably crumble first, and perhaps that's why they dispensed with mortar altogether and made the stones fit tightly.

"The people of Caral suspended their houses in baskets filled with stones that dissipated earth movement and prevented collapse."

Say what?

I've made an attempt at trying to find more information regarding this statement. But, haven't come across anything with a quick search.

Any suggestions as to where I might look? Thanks!

ancient-origins's picture

Hello JustJudyg, if you want more information, you could get in touch with The International Union of Architects who met recently at the UNESCO World Heritage Site to present information about the accomplishments at Caral, including their building of earthquake resistant houses.


Thanks so much for the follow up. A quick search on International Union of Archetecs + Caral was all it took to find more info. Good reading!

Wonderful that they are (did?) use what they found at Caral to present in a letter to the UN climate talks in Paris. 

Thanks again!

15000 years old? You've added one too many zeros.

ancient-origins's picture

No. While the dating remains controversial, numerous historians, archaeologists and archaeoastronomers stand by this dating and so do we.


While ancients did some things fine, better is something more controversial

  1. Hydro technology? Yes in some points. Like unpowered water transferr. Though why to do so in modern times when we have power pumps and pressurized pipes. Damming technology nowadays is far in advance any ancients could ever  have dreamed about.
    2. Steel. Modern metallurgy is more science than art. We have finely tuned temperatures, finely tuned additives and so on.  For example: Try making light weight gun barrel from ancient steel and you would quickly be very sorry.
    3. Concrete, yes Romans did long lifed concrete, though modern buildings are usually intentionally made short lived. If we really wanted we could make long life concrete. And even our limited age stuff has superior strength. As it is usually rebarred and pre-tensioned.
    4. Roads. Pre-modern roads needed to withstand quite light loads. Modern passenger car weights more than most of animal-powered carts, and 60-ton trailer trucks way much more. That kind of loads generally also degrade road bedding fast. As gravel in bedding tends to pounded to sand by masses involved. And road builders tend to have limited budgets, so they cannot be done with all available technological finesse. 
    9. Astronomy: Yes ancients could finely follow movements of stars and planets, but what they knew cannot really be compared with modern knowledge of cosmos. 10. Weapons: Modern weapons while they can deal mass destruction in unprecedented scale, they also can deal nearly surgical accuracy from vast ranges. And beam weapon mentioned in article can be easily reconstructed and surpassed. Even solar powered one. As modern parabolic mirrors can project more intense head over bigger range. And artificially powered high power laser could easily ignite wooden ship over great range.
Tsurugi's picture

I get the point you're making, but I think you're using a somewhat short-sighted definition of "better". For instance, the beam weapon. Yes, I could make a high-powered, highly accurate laser weapon and fry you on the spot, IF I had an army of technicians, factories, power plants, engineers, and physicists to help me out. But long before I could arrange all of that, you could have fried me with your much simpler arrangement of mirrors. So which one is "better"?

Making beam weapon, be it crude or advanced needs quite specialised tools, time and expertise. Yes maybe you could make crude mirror weapon, if you had small army of master metal workers, polishers and so on, Even quite ancient weapon systems needed quite sophisticated society beyound them. Be said weapon good quality steel sword, or sun powered beam weapon. 

Modern society of course has quite much more specialised resources available,than antique one but that’s why it is more advanced.  For example we simply have more people alive than then, and so also bigger amount of  higly intelligent people available too. And we know nowadays more about mirror making, and so on (Current solar ovens can reach over 3000 degrees Celsius temperatures, about same as oxygen-acetylene torch), so even crude beam weapon made with modern knowledge would outperform one allegedly made by Archimedes.


And your way thinking also leaves some questions. Lets say what is better ranged weapon, smokeless powder using bolt-action rifle or simple bow and arrow*? That bolt-action rifle needs industrialised society to produce and sustain it. You’ll need high quality steel and precision instruments to make one, chemical industry to make smokeless powder and primers, quality brass making capability to make casings and bullet jackets. On other hand simple bow and arrow needs just one good guy/gal with nice handworking abilities and some toolmakers.

Still it cannot be argued that with skilled hands that bolt-action rifle will kill with greater accuracy and greater range, and it will take down bigger game.

Is society capable of making and sustaining bolt-action rifle more tecnologically advanced than one not capable of making and sustaining it?

*And with bow and arrow I do not mean advanced war weapons like English Longbow, or Mongolian compound bow. Making of those needed master-level weapon smiths and took time. Making of good longbow needed about 2 years to age and dry wood properly and so on. 

Tsurugi's picture

Yes. My point was that what is "better" is not an absolute. It is variable, dependent upon many things including personal preference, expediency, availability of resources, and so on.

So in a sense I also am in disagreement with the premise of the article.

The first sentence of this article makes me wonder if the writer is herself only two decades old. Please grow up. Perhaps you should spend time in your local library reading material on these subjects that was published five, twenty and yes even 50 decades ago!! My!! What wondrous articles you could write then!!! Please keep writing - but check a few books before you do - you'd be amazed(apparently) at what those of us alive forty to five hundred years ago knew.

M.Alphan Namlı's picture

Peru has been facing a severe water crisis as chronic problems, such as polluted water supplies, and environmental change combine to undermine the water security of the entire country. However, a new plan has been put forward by Lima’s water utility company, Sedapal, to revive an ancient network of stone canals that were built by the Wari culture as early as 500 AD, in order to supply the population with clean, unpolluted water.

Read more: http://www.ancient-origins.net/history/ten-things-ancients-did-better-us...
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Alphan Namli

I am pretty impressed the Roman cement was way more durable than ours is today. However, I don't think that it had to do entirely with the amount of lime or how hot it was baked at. That is because they also added things like ox blood and horse hair to their mixture to make it more durable.

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