11 Ancient Technologies Better Than Modern Ones – Modern technologies are more advanced than what people used in the past, aren’t they? I mean, they didn’t have lasers that cut through metal with precision just by typing some formulas into a computer! But that begs the question – how on Earth did ancient engineers create some amazing technological and architectural wonders? Well, check it out! Counting down from…
11. Greek Fire
This was THE weapon to have back in the 7th century. Greek Fire was shot out of what can only be described as ancient flamethrowers. They mostly used it on ships, and it spread pure destruction wherever it was aimed. They say enemies couldn’t even put it out with water or sand! In fact, water only made the fire stronger! Scientists believe that the Byzantines used a mixture of what sounds like something you’d hear about in your chemistry class – naphtha, quicklime, Sulphur, pine resin. Experts are still at odds over the exact recipe of this unstoppable liquid fire, but whatever it was, it worked!
10. The Antikythera Mechanism
How about an ancient Greek computer?It might not look like the PC you have at home, but it was still incredibly complex for its time. The strange mechanism was made from 37 bronze gears, almost like an intricate clock. It was probably used as an astronomic, meteorological, and cartographic calculator of sorts back around 100 BCE. The Antikythera Mechanism could, among other things, calculate the movement of celestial bodies, determine the dates of 42 astronomic events including solar eclipses, and measure t he strength of winds on the sea and even the Moon’s orbit around the Earth!
9. The Zhang Heng Seismoscope
In 132 CE, Chinese scientist and inventor Zhang Heng introduced the first seismoscope that could predict an earthquake with the accuracy of modern instruments. It’s made of bronze and looks like an upside-down vase decorated with dragons and frogs on all sides. But all those pieces aren’t just for show! Inside the vessel, there’s a pendulum that would start moving when an earthquake began,even if it happened hundreds of miles away. That would cause a bronze ball to fall from one of the dragon’s mouths and into the frog below it, making a loud ring. How EXACTLY all that happened within the “vase” part and as a result of a distant earth quake still isn’t understood to this day. People have even tried to recreate it in modern times, all to no avail…
8. The Iron Pillar of Delhi
One of the most mysterious human-made object scan be found at an ancient temple in Delhi, India. It’s almost 24 feet tall and 99. 5% pure iron. So what’s the big deal? Well, the strange thing about the pillar is that it hasn’t rusted over the last 16 centuries!The climate in India is very moist. In such conditions, the iron pillar should’ve been eaten away by rust over the centuries. But it looks almost brand new! The secret of its production and the name of its creator are unknown. The sign in Sanskrit says that the pillar was made during the reign of Chandragupta II, which was between 380 and 415 CE. Any ideas on how this thing has managed to stay rust-free? Share your theories down in the comments.
7. The Phaistos Disc
In 1908, an Italian expedition in the southern part of Crete excavated a palace near the ancient city of Phaistos. That’s where archaeologist Luigi Pernier found the mysterious clay disk. It’s covered in a swirl of hieroglyphs that have nothing to do with local languages. There are 259 mysterious signs that still can’t be deciphered because they don’t occur anywhere else. The disk alone isn’t enough to crack the code since there are too few signs on it. Scientists don’t know the exact time and place of its production and what it was used for. They do know that the text on the disk was applied with special stamps that must’ve been around before the disk itself. That means there could be others! Maybe one day they’ll be found too, and we’ll finally know what’s written on this mysterious disk!
6. The Baghdad Battery
Didn’t think they had batteries 2,000 years ago? I didn’t either until I saw this!What seems to be humankind’s first battery was discovered in Baghdad in 1936. It’s believed to date back to the 2nd century Parthian period. It’s an oval-shaped clay jar that stands 5 inches high. Inside, there was a folded sheet of copper, an iron rod, and several pieces of bitumen. Bitumen was used to glue up the upper and lower edges of the jar, which means there must’ve been liquid inside. Corrosion on the copper likely caused by vinegar or wine seem to point to this theory. Basically, somehow this thing conducted an electric current! Yeah, 2000 years before Alessandro Volta introduced to the world the first version of the modern battery we have today!.
5. The Rock Ship of Masuda
A ship-like structure made out of rock – I imagine this thing didn’t float very well. Ok, I doubt this 800-ton granite rock bigger than the size of a school bus and carved in the shape of a boat was used for sailing. That, and it’s sitting way up on a hill with 2 huge square holes carved out of the middle. The Rock Ship of Masuda is just one of many unexplained stone structures you can see in the village of Asuka, Japan. They date back to 250-550 CE, but who built them and how or why they did is still beyond anyone who’s studied the site. One theory is that the Rock Ship itself was used by ancient Japanese astronomers as an observation deck. Others believe it’s an unfinished entrance to a burial ground. As of yet, researchers can’t know for sure!
4. Roman Concrete
If you think modern buildings are the most durable, let me tell you about Roman concrete. They started using concrete in ancient Rome around the end of the 3rd century BCE and did it for about 700 years. The Romans didn’t invent it themselves, they borrowed the recipe from the Greeks, Etruscans, and other nations. But it was in Rome that concrete became widely used. The secret to this incredible strength seems to be their use of volcanic rock. This made structures, especially ones on the harbor, incredibly resistant to water erosion. The same can’t be said about the concrete we use today. The exact recipe they used isn’t known, but its durability is quite obvious 2,000 years later!
3. The Sabu Disk
In 1936, Egyptologist Walter Bryan Emery found a strange-looking disk as he was studying the burial chamber of a Pharaoh’s son and city official named Sabu. The disk is a round plate made of stone with several unusual blades and a cavity in the center. It’s about 2 feet in diameter and kinda resembles a large steering wheel. The Ancient Egyptians used a chisel to work with the stone, but making something fragile with such a complicated form likely demanded a different technology and a lot of skill. Experts still don’t know what it is. It seems too fragile to have been used for some functional purpose like a wheel or propeller. Yet it’s so specifically shaped that it probably wasn’t just for decoration. Plenty of theories out there, but no real answers yet!
2. The Nimrud Lens
This lens was found in 1853 during an excavation in Nimrud, one of the ancient capitals of Assyria. Also known as the Layard Lens after the archeologist who discovered it, Austen Henry Layard, this thing was created between 750 and 710 BCE. It’s made out of a natural rock crystal and has a slightly oval form. There’s no single scientific opinion about its initial purpose. One theory is that it was used as a magnifying glass when making intricate engravings, something the locals of this time and place are known for. It could’ve also been used to start fires. Italian professor Giovanni Pettina to offered his own theory that the ancient Assyrians used it as part of a telescope. This could explain how they knew so much about astronomy.
1. The Stone of the South
Another jaw-dropping monolith was found in Baalbek, Lebanon. It’s over 75 feet long, 17 feet wide, and 15 feet high and weighs about 1,000 tons,making it one of the biggest human-carved structures we know of. Can you imagine that this was all made using a chisel? The ancients must’ve had advanced technology to do the job. A 10-minute walk from the stone will lead you to the Roman Heliopolis Temple complex,which has 3 smaller megaliths, although they’re pretty mind-bendingly huge as well. Scientists calculated that to move this stone, 60,000 people had to push or pull it simultaneously. Maybe that’s why they changed their mind and left it unfinished in the end? I guess we can only speculate…
What do you think? Which of these ancient marvels would you like to see in person? And feel free to add to the list down in the comments.