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Ancient Technology

Dating back thousands of years are numerous examples of ancient technology that leave us awe-struck at the knowledge and wisdom held by people of our past. They were the result of incredible advances in engineering and innovation as new, powerful civilizations emerged and came to dominate the ancient world. These advances stimulated societies to adopt new ways of living and governance, as well as new ways of understanding their world. However, many ancient technology mysteries were forgotten, lost to the pages of history, only to be re-invented millennia later. Here we feature ancient technology history and dozens of amazing artifacts that reflect the brilliance of ancient minds.

Detail of a hurdy gurdy

Hurdy Gurdy Man: Rock Star of the Medieval Music Scene

The hurdy gurdy is a musical instrument, or more precisely, a string instrument, that traces its origin to the Middle Ages of Europe. The hurdy gurdy was initially used to play sacred music, before...
Vintage armillary sphere.

Armillary Spheres: Following Celestial Objects in the Ancient World

Astronomy is often considered to be one of the oldest branches of science. In many ancient societies, astronomical observations were used not only for the practical job of determine the rhythm of...
The passage of carts over decades could cause ruts (like the one shown), particularly in high-traffic areas of Pompeii.

Romans in Pompeii Repaired the Roads with Molten Iron

The buried city of Pompeii continues to provide many insights into Roman society , economy, and culture. The ash and pumice , that fell on Pompeii from Mount Vesuvius , froze the city in time. A...
Example of an ancient calendar. The ancient Egyptians created a calendar with 365 days in a year.

Why Are There 365 Days in a Year? Organizing Dates with an Ancient Egyptian Calendar

The calendar is one of mankind’s most important inventions. Calendars allowed societies to organize time for religious, social, economic, and administrative purposes. The calendar, or rather, two...
Was sophisticated Roman technology used in construction of the Roman Colosseum?

Romans Had Ancient Tech for Creating Seismic Invisibility Cloak Around Monuments

A team of civil engineers in France have revealed that the Romans had ancient technology for building structures that acted like modern-day electromagnetic cloaking devices. The pattern of...
Ancient Peruvian mask made of gold (Carlos Santa Maria / Adobe Stock)

From Medicine to Nanotechnology: How Gold Has Quietly Shaped our World

The periodic table of chemical elements turns 150 this year. The anniversary is a chance to shine a light on particular elements – some of which seem ubiquitous but which ordinary people beyond the...
The Norimitsu Odachi.

Norimitsu Odachi: Who Could Have Possibly Wielded This Enormous 15th Century Japanese Sword?

The Norimitsu Odachi is a huge sword from Japan. It is so large, in fact, that it was said to have been wielded by a giant. Apart from the basic knowledge of it having been forged in the 15th century...
Two small figures guard the table holding the Buddha’s relics. Are they spearmen, or robots?

Robots Guarded Buddha’s Relics in a Legend of Ancient India

As early as Homer, more than 2,500 years ago, Greek mythology explored the idea of automatons and self-moving devices. By the third century BC, engineers in Hellenistic Alexandria, in Egypt, were...
Plague Doctor Mask, Steno Museum

Secrets Behind the Creepy Plague Doctor Mask and Costume

The plague doctor mask is one of the most recognizable symbols of the Black Death. Though the image is iconic the relationship may be a little anachronistic. While plague doctors have been plying...
Standard of Ur mosaic, 26th century BC.

Both a Princess and a Priestess, What Did the First Known Author Have to Share with the World?

Louise Pryke / The Conversation The world’s first known author is widely considered to be Enheduanna, a woman who lived in the 23rd century BC in ancient Mesopotamia (approximately 2285 – 2250 BC)...
Agrasen ki baoli.

Agrasen Ki Baoli: A Subterranean Architectural Wonder

When we think of architectural wonders, we do not typically think of the water supply. However, in the heart of modern New Delhi, near one of its most popular tourist sites, is a remarkable...
Stone of the Pregnant Woman, an example of ancient high-tech stonework in Hajar al Hibla at Baalbek in Lebanon.

The High-Tech Stonework of the Ancients: Unsolved Mysteries of Master Engineers

There are many stone artifacts from the ancient world made from the hardest stone on the planet such as granite and diorite, which have been cut and shaped with such quality, precision and accuracy...
Roman weapons were vital to protecting and conquering the ancient world.

Roman Weapons: Sharp Blades to Conquer the Ancient World

The Romans were arguably one of the most successful conquerors of the ancient world. At the height of their power, the Roman Empire stretched from the British Isles in the north to Egypt in the south...
The Hallaton Helmet

The Helmet That Shows Celtic Warriors Helped the Roman Army Conquer Briton

In 2010, there was a very important find at an old Iron Age shrine in England. It included coins and other items from both the Iron Age and the Roman era. Among the discoveries was a remarkable 2,000...
Note the separation between rocks in the Sacsayhuamán Archaeological Park.

Mega Earthquake Caused Major Shift in Inca Construction Methodology

A major new scientific study revealed by Peru’s state-run news agency Andina has confirmed that construction of the ancient Inca city, Machu Picchu , located in modern day Peru, was interrupted in...
3D printed model of the ancient site of Puma Punku, Tiwanaku.

Advanced Ancient Architecture of Puma Punku Site is Fully Recreated With 3D Printing

Part of the ancient archaeological site of Tiwanaku, Bolivia, believed by Incans to be where the world was created has been reconstructed using 3D printed models of fragments of an ancient building...

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