Sunday, April 1, 2018

11 Amazing Historical Inventions Now Lost In Time

We like to think we're at the apex of human invention at this day and age. We think we're so technologically advanced that humans who lived even a couple of centuries ago wouldn't recognize us.

The fact is, humans have always been pursuing creative solutions to serious problems, and the ancient humans came up with some incredibly clever things. It's impossible to say whether they knew what they were doing or if they just happened to stumble across something that worked without understanding why.

Regardless, clearly they didn't always know what they had in their hands at the time. It's tempting to imagine what current times might look like had some of their creations been embraced and seriously pursued. Sadly, many of their inventions have since been buried in the sands of time.

Here are some of the inventions that were very much ahead of their time, but did not survive for us to examine in closer detail.

SHARE the invention you'd want to bring to the future! 

1. Greek Fire

Only descriptions of Greek Fire's terrifying effects have survived. There are no recipes for the napalm-like weapon, so it's difficult to confirm that it ever existed at all. Legend has it that the formula went to the grave with its inventor, Kallinikos.

2. Flexible Glass

Three different ancient writers told the tale of vitrum flexile, or flexible glass. Their tales differ slightly, but they all tell of a glass maker who, in an audience with the Roman emperor Tiberius, threw a glass vessel on the floor and it only dented rather than breaking. 

If it ever existed, clearly no examples survived.

3. Silphium

Every civilization has its aphrodisiacs. The Ancient Romans didn't seem to need aphrodisiacs as much as they needed birth control, however, and that's the role the silphium herb played. Whether it worked or not remains unknown, because the Romans more than likely harvested it into extinction.

4. The Antikythera Mechanism

This incredible mechanism baffled scientists for decades before modern imaging technologies revealed its true purpose: navigation. The Antikythera Mechanism, as it came to be called, could calculate the position and phases of the moon and sun, and predict eclipses for decades to come.

How the ancient Greeks managed to devise so clever and precise a device remains a mystery, especially considering no records of its existence have been discovered, and it seems to be one of a kind. You would think such an advanced piece of technology would be written about and reproduced.

5. Nepenthe

The doctors of Ancient Greece were said to use nepenthe  a substance mentioned in Homer's Odyssey as an anti-depressant for the bereaved. It was noted for its ability to cause the user to forget bad memories. Some liken it to cannabis or opium, and it could be that we still use nepenthe today, but we just don't realize it.

6. Roman Concrete

The Ancient Romans were unparalleled builders and one of the big reasons so many of their monuments still stand is the particular concrete they used. Mixing the ingredients the Romans left us in their texts hasn't yielded the expected results, however, so the secret to their success, ironically, did not stand the test of time.

7. Stradivarius Instruments

The rich, resonant tone of a Stradivarius instrument has made the name synonymous with a masterwork. But when the Stradivari family line died out, so did their family secret. Often imitated but never duplicated, Stradivarius instruments each have a unique sound due to tiny imperfections and the evolution of their design over the years.

8. Baghdad Batteries

These 2,000-year-old objects look like simple clay pots, but inside there's an iron rod in a copper cylinder. When the pot is filled with vinegar, it produces an electric charge of just over one volt. Researchers believe the Baghdad batteries would have been used for electroplating, but no records exist of its exact use, so it's all a matter of speculation just what an ancient civilization would need batteries for.

9. Mithridatium

The belief in using pharmaceuticals to cure our ails goes back a long, long time. Mithridatium, named after the Greek king Mithridates, was an ancient poison antidote that combined a staggering array of herbs and oils. Confusing things further, there were several different recipes all called Mithridatium.

10. Archimedes Death Ray

Legend has it that Ancient Greek genius Archimedes  of 'Eureka' fame  developed a devastating heat ray using the power of sunlight reflected from mirrors. The Mythbusters famously tried to re-create it on their show  twice  but couldn't get it to work. A team at MIT, however, managed to light up a ship using only the power of sunlight and mirrors. It took them 10minutes, which is not exactly practical in the heat of battle.

11. Damascus Steel

You'll see many blades with beautiful patterns in them being marketed as Damascus steel, but the actual formula has been lost since about the 16th century. High-end modern alloys will out-perform patterned blades, but generally speaking, a Damascus steel blade will hold its edge longer than mass-produced knives  and look a whole lot better too!

Which one would you bring back to the future? SHARE on Facebook to let us know!

Main image via YouTube / Antikythera

Collage image via Wired


Author: verified_user