It’s 21st century and supposedly we’re living in the future. Although it’s still not the same as what science fiction promised, we still can’t stop swelling over our gadget augmented lives and fruits of technology. We can safely agree that the gadgets and technology that we use today are far advanced than what ancient civilizations could think of. However, there are numerous technologies developed during ancient times and classical antiquity that baffle modern day scientists and engineers. Do not believe us? Check out the below list.
- City Planning
Anyone who says New York looks more majestic than Istanbul certainly doesn’t have an eye for detail. Even though our modern cities are lined with skyscrapers and highly detailed road networks, they’re certainly nowhere close to ancient cities. The Indus valley civilization is the best example of advanced city planning in ancient era. Not only it was an architectural wonder, but had all modern amenities like aqueducts and sewage along with natural air conditioning.
Sure, peeking into far off galaxies has only become possible with technologies such as the Hubble Telescope and probe satellites. But it is certainly clear that our ancestors were far better at astronomical calculations than us, despite of them not using any modern-day gadgets. Some great examples can be seen throughout history with Greeks, Egyptians, Sumerians, Indians and Chinese providing their respective contributions. There are numerous observatories that could predict the precise movement of stars and planets per earth’s rotation and allowed astronomers to witness and track astronomical movements with naked eye. A feat no modern-day scientist or research facility can boast of.
You must certainly be boggled by the fact that there are pyramids in Egypt that have outlasted modern day buildings. That is simply because the concrete we use today isn’t nearly as strong as the ones used by our ancestors. Roman concrete has been of major interest to engineers simply due to the immense durability of their structures that still look better than a lot of buildings made a few years ago. Ancient Roman structures were built with a mix of limestone, water and crushed rocks that provided extraordinary durability to their buildings. There are rumors of other ingredients like milk and blood being added to the mix, but with lack of conclusive evidence, scientists feel better off with your regular Portland cement.
- Roman Roads
There were a lot of civilizations that build roads before anyone else, but the ones that are still in use are certainly built by the Romans. They used a homogenous mix of bricks, gravel, dirt and hard lava to cover nearly 1.7 million square miles with roads. These roads were built with a slight curve on the sides to prevent water damage and improve drainage. All roads were built before 200 AD with some of them still being used with only minor signs of damage and aging.
Modern day engineers and masons cannot hold a candle to masonry skills displayed during classical antiquity. Not only their walls and concrete were much stronger than ours, they were far adept at masonry than we can ever be. Best examples can be found in the ancient ruins at Peru where huge limestone blocks were arranged into a wall without using a single layer of mortar. The stones were individually shaped to fit in together so tightly you cannot insert any thin object (paper, blade) between the cracks. This was something we cannot hope to do on such a large scale even if we use machines to shape the blocks.
Ever imagine why Conan the Barbarian trusted his sword more than any deity or person? This is simply because the steel used in ancient times was far superior than what we commonly see today. The best example is certainly Damascus Steel, that was being used to make knives, daggers and swords between 1100-1700 AD. This was a result of mixing some chemicals with Wootz steel from India that results in reactions at quantum level and made it extremely strong. Although modern day scientists can create durable steel, but it still doesn’t have the same composition as Damascus steel that gave it a wavy surface.
This list proves the fact that regardless of how ‘futuristic’ we consider ourselves to be, there are some elementary things that we need to figure out. Although we have alternatives to several of the abovementioned technologies today. But the fact that ancient humans achieved these without using any gadgets is certainly humbling for those who thought of them as barbarous apes.