Even though most of today’s advanced technologies leaves us speechless, we can’t deny that some things that were invented a long time ago were very impressive as well. From an analog computer that was created more than two thousand years ago to flexible glass, some genius inventors are now forgotten (like their inventions). However, old texts show us that there was always a lot of creative people managed to create advanced technology even though they didn’t have the resources we have today, and today we have decided to write a list that proves it.
Damascus SteelFrom 1100 to 1700 AD, Damascus steel was known as the incredibly strong metal that was mainly used in the Middle East. People claimed that blades that were forged with Damascus steel were able to slice rocks and even cut other blades in half. This type of steel was mostly used in the forging of swords and knives. The material used for forging the weapons is known to be imported wootz steel from Sri Lanka, but the process of making the swords and knives is what actually made them so unique and strong. Not only that, but it has been noted that the blade forged this way was also extremely flexible.
During the 1st century AD, one very skilled Roman glassmaker managed to invent flexible glass. He then brought a drinking bowl made from this material to Tiberius, who then threw it to the floor. The material actually dented instead of shattering, and the dent could be repaired very easily using only a hammer. When Tiberius saw this, he checked if the inventor was the only one who knew how to make flexible glass, and afterwards had him beheaded, in fear that the material would undermine the value of silver and gold.
The Antikythera Mechanism
Divers found this artifact off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900 while looking into a shipwreck from either the 1st or 2nd century BC. What’s really special about this artifact is that it’s actually an ancient (and the oldest known) analog computer ever found. Namely, it contains a lot of gears, dials, and cranks, which can be used to chart the positions of the planets in our solar system, as well as the positions of the Sun and Moon. It is currently the only ancient discovery of this kind.
The greatest violins in the world were created from 1650-1750, in Italy. They were pretty popular during that time, but eventually became known all around the world for producing the most beautiful sounds. What also made them special is the fact that they simply couldn’t be reconstructed. The Stradivari family had a secret way of making string instruments. There are only around 600 of these instruments left in the world today, and they are usually sold at auctions for millions. Experts who constantly continue to research these instruments still can’t manage to figure out how they were made.
The Telharmonium is known as the first electronic musical instrument the world has ever seen. It was invented by Thaddeus Cahill towards the end of the 19th century, and was one of the biggest instruments at the time (it would take up a whole room). Thaddeus managed to construct three different versions of this instrument, one of which weighed over 200 tons. The early exhibitions of the Telharmonium were very successful, but since it was extremely pricey and wasted too much energy, work on the instrument was abandoned. The technology was just too advanced for that time.
Sloot Digital Coding System
Romke Jan Bernhard Sloot was a famous Dutch electronics technician known for claiming that he developed a lossless data compression technique that could compress a ten-gigabyte movie down to only eight kilobytes of data without sacrificing its quality – something that current technology isn’t even near achieving. Although many doubted this technique, a lot of people were interested in investing and claimed that the coding system had potential. However, Sloot died just a day before signing a deal with Philips, and the floppy disk where his coding system was written went missing.
This is an extremely old remedy that consisted of 65 ingredients, which was used as an antidote for poisoning. It was invented during the 1st century BC, and is known for being able to cure a person from any poison. In fact, the inventor of this remedy actually tried killing himself by consuming a variety of different poisons, but they didn’t have an effect on him. So that he would die, he actually ordered some soldiers to kill him with a sword. After his death, a number of people started translating the recipe; but with every translation, certain alterations were made. Nowadays, the recipe for Mithridate is completely lost.
This is a device that was invented by Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich during the 1950s, which was able to produce rain. The machine would point several water-powered metal tubes at the sky, which would then manipulate what Reich called ‘orgone energy,’ in order to create rain. The machine was proven to work when Reich brought rain to a farm in 1953. However, when the FDA saw that the machine actually works, they immediately destroyed all the work Reich had done. They also imprisoned him, in fear that a lot of danger would come with men being able to manipulate the climate.
This was an incendiary weapon that was used by the Byzantine Empire. It was mostly used in naval battles, as it was known that this fire would continue burning even on water. It was probably like a primitive form of napalm (which was perfected in the 1940s), but it’s really impressive that a weapon like this was used during the 11th century! It was usually poured into jars to create something similar to a Molotov cocktail, but even primitive types of flamethrowers were also used then. However, Greek Fire was a carefully guarded military secret only a few people knew, so the process of creating it eventually disappeared.
An amateur scientist known as Maurice Ward managed to create an indestructible heat-resistant plastic during the 1980s, after seeing a plane burst into flames. He came up with Starlite which proved to tolerate as much as 10,000 degrees Celsius, and could even survive blasts that are 75 times the strength of the Hiroshima bomb. NASA was very interested in getting a hold of this material, but Maurice refused to reveal how he made it, as he didn’t want other people to profit off of his invention. He died in 2011, and his secret died with him.