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56 Ancient Inventions That You Think Are Modern

Ashmeet Bagga Mar 22, 2020
Although we live in a technologically advanced era, we owe this development to our ancestors. The origin of many things we use today can be traced to olden times. Many inventions that we assume are modern, were in fact invented long years ago.

Ancient Romans Loved to Shop!

In 113 AD, Romans constructed Trajan's Mall which had 150 rooms divided across four floors. Romans could shop for soap, cosmetics, gold, silver, textile, and food.
When we think about the ancient times, we think of broken houses, diseases, and disorganized societies. We imagine a life without modern amenities or advanced technology. We credit the best inventions in various fields to the Industrial revolution.
But here is a surprising fact; most of the things we use today were developed thousands of years ago. For example, some Greek inventions include alarm clocks, odometers, thermometers, and maps. Given here is the list of modern inventions that are actually ancient.

Ancient Inventions Used Today

Alarm Clock
Ancient Greek philosopher Plato was believed to have had a large water clock with an alarm signal which sounded like a water organ.
The earliest reference to architecture is found in De architectura, written by the Roman architect Vitruvius in 1st century AD.
Automatic Doors
Hero of Alexandria developed the first automatic door in the first century AD.
There is a debate as to who invented astronomy. Some say ancient Greeks, others believe that the Dogon people of Mali invented it. It is said that the Dogon people knew about Saturn's rings, Jupiter's moons, etc.
Analog Computers
The Antikythera mechanism (oldest form of analog computers) removed from the Antikythera wreck in 1900-1901 is one of the oldest and well-preserved portable astronomical calculators. Analog computers helped foresee lunar and solar eclipses.
Breath Mint
To solve the problem of bad breath, the ancient Egyptians came up with breath mints. They mixed various herbs with honey and made small candy-shaped pellets.

Baghdad Battery
Also known as the Parthian battery, it is the oldest battery ever. It was probably developed in Mesopotamia under the Iranian dynasties of the Parthian or Sassanid period.
Cataract Surgery
In the 6th century BC, Indian physician Sushruta developed a cure for cataracts. The earliest reference to a cataract surgery can be found in Hindu records as well as in the Bible.
Central Heating
The Greeks, particularly the Minoans, discovered a brilliant way to warm their houses. They kept pipes under the floors of their houses and through these pipes, warm water would be passed. This helped to keep the room and the floor warm during the winters.
Democratic Government
In 507 BC, ancient Greeks presented a new system of government known as Demokratia, which simply means rule by the people.

Dentist's Drill
Dentistry can trace its roots to as far back as 7000 BC.

Door Locks
Ancient Egyptians invented the first door lock in 4000 BC to keep their home and family safe.
In the 1st century AD, Emperor Nero is believed to have watched gladiatorial games with the help of an emerald as a corrective lens.
Harpastum known as the ancestor of modern-day football was first played by the Roman soldiers, when they invaded Britain.
Gunpowder was invented in China. Chinese forces used gunpowder-made weapons against the Mongols.
In ancient Greece, Pythagoras was the one to solve the Pythagorean Theorem. He also came up with many other geometrical deductions.
The oldest reference of hair braiding is during the Paleolithic era.
High Heel Shoes
High heel shoes were worn by medieval Europeans. High-heeled footwear has been depicted on a 9th century ceramic bowl from Persia. Ancient Persian riders wore high heel shoes.
Hot Tub
In 2000 BC, ancient Egyptians built hot tubs for therapeutic purposes. King Phraortes of ancient Persia used a hot tub in 600 BC which had a water-filled Caldera, which was heated by placing red stones in the tub.
Iron Smelting
There is a possibility that iron smelting was practiced first in West Africa in 1200 BC. However, some researchers claim that humans learned the process of iron smelting more than 8,000 years ago.
International Trade
Many evidences prove that international trade was first developed between Africa and Asia.
Ice Skates
Based on the research done by Federico Formenti and Alberto Minetti, ice skates were first developed by the Finns. They produced ice skates 5,000 years ago and they were made of animal bones.
Julian Calendar
A reformed Roman calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC.
Austen Henry Layard unearthed a 3000-year old piece of rock crystal known as the Nimrud lens. It was unearthed at the Assyrian palace of Nimrud. Assyrians may have used this lens.
A Greek philosopher Anaximander in 6th century BC, invented the first map.
Makeup was invented in ancient Egypt and Greece.
When the Persian army occupied Greece in 490 BC, the Greek army was dependent on runners like Pheidippides to ask for help and warn other leaders about the attack.
It was believed that Pheidippides covered 280 miles in ten days. He passed away as he finished his last 26-mile trek. Greece still hosts marathons in his memory.
Metal Coatings
It can be traced to as far back as 2,000 years ago when artisans and craftsmen made use of an ancient technology for putting thin sheets of metal on statues and other things.

Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician first developed the concept of medicine. He also wrote a document which stated ethical rules to be followed by doctors.
Mining of Minerals
Mining of minerals started 43,000 years ago. The oldest known mine is the Lion Cave in Swaziland.

A 1,600-year old goblet proves that Romans invented nanotechnology.
Somewhere around 15 BC, Vitruvius who was a Roman architect and engineer developed the odometer.
The tradition of hosting Olympic games started in Greece in 776 B.C. This game was devoted to the gods of Olympus. That's why only the brightest and excellent athletes could take part in it.
The ancient Greeks came up with a delicious recipe of pancakes.
A woman chemist known as Tapputi was the first one to create perfumes during the second millennium BC in Mesopotamia.
Peer Jury
Peer Juries' opinion was used by the ancient Greek courts. They were created to decide on important cases and take an appropriate decision.

Paper was first produced in 2nd century BC in China.

Pens were developed by the ancient Egyptians. The earlier forms of pens were thin reed brushes or reed pens.
Ancient Greeks called pizza a large round pie, Plakous. Its dough was made of barley flour, wine, and water.
Plastic Surgery
Ancient Egyptians were the first to introduce plastic surgery. A transcription of Edwin Smith Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian medical text is a proof that plastic surgery existed even in the period between 3000 BC and 2500 BC.
Plumbing was originally developed during the Greek, Roman, Persian, Indian, and Chinese civilizations.

Plywood was first made by the ancient Egyptians around 3500 B.C.


The idea of creating a rocket was of the Hero Of Alexandria, but the actual rocket was produced in the 1st century by the Chinese.
2,400 years ago, Hero of Alexandria who was a famous mathematician and inventor created the first robot which he called Pigeon.

Shaving was first started by the Egyptian priests and later followed by the Greeks and Romans.

Greek mathematician Archimedes devised a screw pump for withdrawing and raising water.
Steam Engine
Hero of Alexandria produced the first steam engine and named it as an aeolipile.
Before the Romans, the ancient Greeks were believed to be the first people to bathe under showers.
Swimming Pool
The Great Bath discovered at the site of Mohenjo-Daro which is in modern-day Pakistan, was the first swimming pool. It was built during the third millennium BC.
The production of soap dates back to 2800 BC in ancient Babylon. An excavated Babylon clay tablet has a written formula for producing soap.

Chinese inventor Zhang Heng was the first to invent a seismoscope in 132 AD.
Sutures have been used by ancient physicians since 4,000 years. Egyptian records prove that ancient Egyptians used linen and animal sinew to close open wounds.

The very first bristled toothbrush was discovered in China in the Tang Dynasty (619-907).
Ancient Greeks were behind the invention of theaters in the city state of Athens. Greek performers such as Aeschylus and Menander were the famous performers.
An ancient Egyptian manuscript, which dates back to the 4th century AD, is the living proof that Egyptians were the first to come up with the recipe for toothpaste. They squeezed mint, dried Iris flowers, rock salt, and pepper to form a powder.
Vending Machine
An ancient Greek engineer and mathematician Hero of Alexandria invented an early vending machine in the first century AD.
After looking at the mentioned list, you must be convinced that there are many things we consider as modern, which were actually invented in the past. All we did was to improve the already existing equipment and practices.