Weird History
306 voters

13 Surprisingly Modern Technologies From The Ancient World

April 7, 2021 2.4k votes 306 voters 9.3k views13 items

List RulesVote up the most surprising ancient technologies.

Many of the creature comforts we take for granted today are actually thousands of years old. From the very first calendars to urban planning to the first experiments with steam power, the people of the ancient world made some incredible discoveries that in some cases weren't fully realized until the modern era. This list shows some of the most surprising examples of modern technology found in ancient times. 

  • 1

    Central Heating From A Roman Villa - C. First Century BC

    The hypocaust was an underfloor heating system first used by the Romans around the first century BC. By raising the floor with a series of pillars, hot air and smoke could pass through and provide heat without polluting the room. Other ancient examples of underfloor heating include the Korean ondol, which still provides the basis for heating in modern Korean homes today.  

    Astoundingly ancient?
  • 2

    Toothpaste, Egypt - C. 5000 BC

    The Egyptians pioneered the use of toothpaste using a mixture of dried iris flowers, rock salt, mint, and pepper crushed into a fine paste. The earliest known dentists were also found along the Nile thousands of years ago. 

    Astoundingly ancient?
  • 3

    An Alarm Clock From Ancient Egypt - Third Century BC

    Often the bane of a Monday morning, the alarm clock has been around for longer than you might think. Plato (c. 428-348 BC) lays claim to crafting the first device by adapting a water clock to whistle like a kettle after a set amount of time. This premise was later modified by another Greek, Ctesibius (285-222 BC), an inventor and mathematician living in Egypt. Ctesibius's alarm clock was also water-activated and designed to drop pebbles onto a gong. 


    Astoundingly ancient?
  • 4

    Cisterns, Ancient Carthage - C. 300 BC

    While the ruins aren't nearly so well preserved as the great monuments of ancient Rome, the Punic city of Carthage was every bit the equal of her great Italian rival. For centuries, Carthage, not Rome, was the epicenter of the Mediterranean world.

    Chief among the many dazzling features of the trading capital of the ancient world was the first known urban water supply system. The people of Carthage enjoyed indoor plumbing long before the onset of the industrial revolution.

    Astoundingly ancient?