1. Vulcanization Of Rubber: The process of converting hard rubber into a soft pliable material is called vulcanization. The name vulcanization comes from the Roman god Vulcan, the god of fire and is thought of as a 19th century invention from the Europeans. However, the Mayas of Mexico used vulcanization to make rubber balls to play their game of Pok-a-tok as early as 2000 B.C.
|Ancient Vulcanized Rubber Ball Made By Mayas Of Mexico|
This evidence in clearly documented in various Maya chronicles. Also, a similar game called Ulama is still in existence, in the Mexican state of Sinaloa where they still vulcanize rubber using traditional techniques. Rubber sap is boiled with many secret ingredients to make it soft and playable. The ancient Mayan ball game is discussed in the Anthopology Museum of Merida section.
2. Battery: We all know Alessandro Volta invented in the first battery in 1800 A.D. However, the very first battery was invented at least 2000 years ago, found in Modern day Baghdad. This primitive 3 piece gadget caused considerable doubt if it could produce any real electricity.
|Above: The Ancient Baghdad Battery That Produced Electricity|
Nevertheless, when Discovery Channel's Mythbusters created a replica and tested it, they were able to produce four volts of electricity, enough to electroplate a coin. The beauty is that, they did not even use strong, modern-day acid as an electrolyte, they just used lemon juice for the experiment.
3. Seismometer: The equipment primarily used to estimate earthquake's rigor is commonly thought of as an invention made after 1850 A.D. In 132 A.D, the Chinese scientist Zhang Heng invented the first seismoscope made of bronze.
|Above: The Ancient Seismoscope That Detected Earthquakes Accurately|
It looks like a huge pot with about six and a half feet diameter. Around the mouth of this pot, there are 8 dragon heads, each holding a bronze ball. One of the bronze balls would drop into the pot, which would show the severity and the direction of the earthquake. This instrument (called Houfeng Didong Yi) is so accurate, that it can even record very mild tremors, that are not even felt by humans.
|Above: A Replica Made By Chinese That Is In Working Condition|
This invention and its recordings are noted in the court records of the later Han dynasty in 132 A.D.
Advanced surgeries were performed by the Indian physician Sushruta around 6th Century B.C. His surgical procedures are clearly documented in the book called "Sushruta Samhita". This book is extremely advanced and contains 184 chapters with various surgical techniques. Documentation of probing, incision, extraction, excision, caesarian, cataract surgery and even fitting prosthetic limbs are found in the book.
|Above: A Portrayal Of The Ancient Surgeon Sushruta, Who Documented Advanced Surgical Procedures|
Also explained is the technique of anesthesia to make the procedure painless to the patient and less cumbersome to the physicians. Another interesting feature of the book is its voluminous description of plastic surgery. Modern day Rhinoplasty (Nose Job), grafting of the skin, and even labioplasty are clearly explained in the book. In fact, the book became so popular, that it was translated to Arabic as Kitab-i-Susrud in the 8th century CE.
5. The Freeze-Dryer:
Freeze-drying or lyophilization, is the removal of water content from frozen food to create a near-perfect preservation. Freeze-dried food lasts longer than other preserved food and also becomes lighter, which makes it perfect for long distance and even space travel. While this process is thought of as developed during the second world war, The Incas of Modern day Peru used this technique at least 500 years ago. They stored their food crops in the granaries strategically built on mountain tops of Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu.
|Above: The Ancient Freeze - Dryers In Ollantaytambo, Peru|
At that altitude, the food froze and slowly dehydrated under low air pressure causing the food to be preserved for a very long time and the nutrition is kept intact. The native Quechua women living in the mountains of Peru, are still using this method for storage and prepare awesome Peruvian Delicacies from freeze-dried vegetables and crops.
6. Calculator: The modern day calculator was invented in 1960s, but the ancient calculator called Abacus has been in use since 2700 BCE. Invented by the Sumerians, the abacus is much more than a simple gadget for calculation. Using the abacus, we can find out square roots & even cubic roots of numbers, create decimal numbers and perform algebraic calculations.
|Above: An Ancient Abacus Capable Of Arithmetic & Algebra|
Interestingly, the abacus has been continuously used up to the current day in many countries such as Japan, India and Egypt. Even a simple abacus can be used to represent and calculate numbers upto 999,999,999!
7. Toilet Paper: The Chinese used toilet paper from 6th century A.D onwards while Europeans used wool or hemp and the poor people used water. In 589 A.D, the scholar Yan Zhitui documents the use of toilet paper among Chinese citizens.
|Toilet Paper Was Invented And Used By Chinese Circa 500 A.D|
During the early 14th century, it is recorded that toilet paper was mass manufactured and sold for ordinary Chinese citizens. During the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644 A.D), the royal documents note that the imperial family of Emperor Hongwu alone used 15000 sheets of perfumed toilet paper.
8. Rocket Artillery: The very first iron cased rockets were used in Mysore, India in 1780 A.D against the British by Hyder Ali. Although the British had been experimenting with rocket weaponry themselves, this was the first known use of explosive metal rockets in warfare. It has been recorded that the British suffered a humiliating defeat in the battle as at least 2000 rockets were fired simultaneously.
|Rocket Artillery Was Invented By Hyder Ali And Was Used To Defeat The British in India|
Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan had created a formidable rocket division in the army, comprising of 3200 men. These "rocket specialists" were trained to evaluate the angle of dispatch, projectile and the distance the rockets would travel. In Tipu Sultan's Military manual "Fathul Mujahidin" he explains the use and creation of Rocket technology. Ironically, the British would eventually copy these techniques to build better rockets to win the war later.
9. Optical Lens: How about a nicely crafted lens which can magnify and concentrate sunlight that is 3000 years old? Such a lens was unearthed in Assyrian palace of Nimrud, which is modern day Iraq. It is a piece of rock crystal, and has elaborate engravings which implies that it was used for some serious work.
|Above: The 3000 Year Old Nimrud Lens Found In Modern Day Iraq|
It could have been used in umpteen different areas from a simple magnifier to an advanced telescope. The Assyrian people's advanced astronomy may have been aided by lenses like these.
Crucible (Wootz) Steel: By 300 B.C the Dravidians of South India had perfected the technique of creating very high quality steel that is rust resistant. The Tamil Pandian Queen Meenakshi used this high quality steel for building defense structures around Madurai Meenakshi Temple in 300 B.C. The technique is very simple: Wrought Iron, Glass and Charcoal are mixed in a crucible and heated.
|Above: Crucible, Rust - Resistant Steel Was Invented By Dravidians Of Inda, around 300 B.C|
The iron melts and absorbs the carbon creating a superb quality of steel. Surprisingly, this technique is still prevalent in villages of South India, and these primitive Iron workshops are called "Irumbu Pattarai".