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Ancient Mesopotamia

Science, Inventions, and Technology


History >> Ancient Mesopotamia

The civilizations of Ancient Mesopotamia brought many important advances in the areas of
science and technology.

Writing

Perhaps the most important advance made by the Mesopotamians was the invention of writing by
the Sumerians. Go here to learn more about Sumerian writing. With the invention of writing
came the first recorded laws called Hammurabi's Code as well as the first major piece of
literature called the Epic Tale of Gilgamesh.

The Wheel

Although archeologists don't know for sure who invented the wheel, the oldest wheel discovered
was found in Mesopotamia. It is likely the Sumer first used the wheel in making pottery in
3500BC and then used it for their chariots in around 3200 BC.

Mathematics

The Mesopotamians used a number system with the base 60 (like we use base 10). They divided
time up by 60s including a 60 second minute and a 60 minute hour, which we still use today.
They also divided up the circle into 360 degrees.

They had a wide knowledge of mathematics including addition, subtraction, multiplication,


division, quadratic and cubic equations, and fractions. This was important in keeping track of
records as well as in some of their large building projects.

The Mesopotamians had formulas for figuring out the circumference and area for different
geometric shapes like rectangles, circles, and triangles. Some evidence suggests that they even
knew the Pythagorean Theorem long before Pythagoras wrote it down. They may have even
discovered the number for pi in figuring the circumference of a circle.

Astronomy

Using their advanced math, the Mesopotamian astronomers were able to follow the movements
of the stars, planets, and the Moon. One major achievement was the ability to predict the
movements of several planets. This took logic, mathematics, and a scientific process.

By studying the phases of the Moon, the Mesopotamians created the first calendar. It had 12
lunar months and was the predecessor for both the Jewish and Greek calendars.
Medicine

The Babylonians made several advances in medicine. They used logic and recorded medical
history to be able to diagnose and treat illnesses with various creams and pills.

Technology

The Mesopotamians made many technological discoveries. They were the first to use the potter's
wheel to make better pottery, they used irrigation to get water to their crops, they used bronze
metal (and later iron metal) to make strong tools and weapons, and used looms to weave cloth
from wool.

Interesting Facts About Mesopotamian Technology

 The Walls of Babylon were once considered one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the
World. There were actually two massive walls that surrounded the entire city.
Archeologists estimate that the walls were over 50 miles long with each wall being
around 23 feet wide and 35 feet tall. There were also massive towers at intervals along
the wall that may have been hundreds of feet tall.
 The Mesopotamians may have invented the simple machine called the Archimedes'
Screw. This would have helped to raise water to the heights needed for the plants in the
famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
 The Assyrians developed glasswork as well as glazes for pottery and art to help it last
longer.
 Eighteen different canals have been found that brought water to the Assyrian Empire
capital of Nineveh.

Ancient Egypt
Inventions and Technology
Back to Ancient Egypt for Kids

The Ancient Egyptians were one of the first civilizations to form in the ancient world. Their
inventions and technology had an impact on many civilizations to come. Their technology
included the ability to build large construction projects such as pyramids and palaces, simple
machines such as ramps and levers, and a complex system of government and religion.

Writing

One of the most important inventions of the Ancient Egyptians was writing. They wrote in
hieroglyphics. You can learn more about hieroglyphics here. Writing allowed the Egyptians to
keep accurate records and maintain control of their large empire.

Papyrus Sheets

The Egyptians learned how to make durable sheets of parchment from the papyrus plant. It was
used for important documents and religious texts. The Egyptians kept the process to make the
sheets a secret so they could sell the parchment to other civilizations such as Ancient Greece.

Medicine

The Ancient Egyptians had a wide variety of medicines and cures. Some of their medicines were
quite strange. For example, they used honey and human brains to cure eye infections. They also
used a whole cooked mouse to help cure coughs. Many of their medicines were accompanied by
spells to ward off the evil spirits making the person sick.

Shipbuilding

With the Nile River playing a major role in the lives of the Egyptians, building ships was a big
part of their technology. They originally built small boats from papyrus reeds, but later began to
build large ships from cedar wood imported from Lebanon.

Mathematics

The Egyptians needed a good understanding of mathematics and geometry to build the pyramids
and other large buildings. They also used math and numbers to keep track of business
transactions. For numbers they used a decimal system. They didn't have numerals for 2 - 9 or
zero. They just had numbers for factors of 10 such as 1, 10, 100, etc. In order to write the number
3 they would write down three number 1s. To write the number 40, they would write down four
number 10s.

Makeup

All Egyptians wore makeup, even the men. They made a dark eye makeup called kohl from soot
and other minerals. The makeup was a fashion statement, but it also had the side effect of
protecting their skin from the hot desert sun.

Toothpaste

Because their bread had so much grit and sand in it, the Egyptians had a lot of problems with
their teeth. They invented the toothbrush and toothpaste in an effort to take care of their teeth.
They used a wide variety of ingredients to make their toothpaste including ashes, eggshells, and
even ground up ox hooves.

Fun Facts about the Inventions of Ancient Egypt

 The Ancient Egyptians did not start using the wheel until it was introduced by foreign
invaders using the chariot.
 The word for paper comes from the Greek word for the papyrus plant.
 The Egyptian number for one million was a picture of a god with his arms raised in the
air.
 They invented a game similar to bowling where the bowler tried to roll a ball into a hole.
 They invented large door locks which used keys. Some of the keys were up to 2 feet long.

Ancient Greece
Science and Technology
History >> Ancient Greece

The Ancient Greeks made many advancements in science and technology. Greek philosophers
began to look at the world in different ways. They came up with theories on how the world
worked and thought that the natural world obeyed certain laws that could be observed and
learned through study.

Mathematics

The Greeks were fascinated with numbers and how they applied to the real world. Unlike most
earlier civilizations, they studied mathematics for its own sake and developed complex
mathematical theories and proofs.

One of the first Greek mathematicians was Thales. Thales studied geometry and discovered
theories (such as Thale's theorem) about circles, lines, angles, and triangles. Another Greek
named Pythagoras also studied geometry. He discovered the Pythagorean Theorem which is still
used today to find the sides of a right triangle.

Perhaps the most important Greek mathematician was Euclid. Euclid wrote several books on the
subject of geometry called Elements. These books became the standard textbook on the subject
for 2000 years. Euclid's Elements is sometimes called the most successful textbook in history.

Astronomy

The Greeks applied their skills in math to help describe the stars and the planets. They theorized
that the Earth may orbit the Sun and came up with a fairly accurate estimate for the
circumference of the Earth. They even developed a device for calculating the movements of the
planets which is sometimes considered the first computer.

Medicine

The Greeks were one of the first civilizations to study medicine as a scientific way to cure
illnesses and disease. They had doctors who studied sick people, observed their symptoms, and
then came up with some practical treatments. The most famous Greek doctor was Hippocrates.
Hippocrates taught that diseases had natural causes and they could sometimes be cured by
natural means. The Hippocratic Oath to uphold medical ethics is still taken by many medical
students today.

Biology

The Greeks loved to study the world around them and this included living organisms. Aristotle
studied animals in great detail and wrote down his observations in a book called the History of
Animals. He heavily influenced zoologists for years by classifying animals according to their
different characteristics. Later Greek scientists continued Aristotle's work by studying and
classifying plants.

Inventions

While the Greeks loved to observe and study the world, they also applied their learning to make
some practical inventions. Here are some of the inventions that are typically attributed to the
Ancient Greeks.

 Watermill - A mill for grinding grain that is powered by water. The Greeks invented the
waterwheel used to power the mill and the toothed gears used to transfer the power to the
mill.
 Alarm Clock - The Greek philosopher Plato may have invented the first alarm clock in
history. He used a water clock to trigger a sound like an organ at a certain time.
 Central Heating - The Greeks invented a type of central heating where they would
transfer hot air from fires to empty spaces under the floors of temples.
 Crane - The Greeks invented the crane to help lift heavy items such as blocks for
constructing buildings.
 Archimedes' Screw - Invented by Archimedes, the Archimedes' screw was an efficient
way to move water up a hill.

Interesting Facts About the Science and Technology of Ancient Greece

 The word "mathematics" comes from the Greek word "mathema" which means "subject
of instruction."
 Hypatia was head of the Greek mathematics school in Alexandria. She was one of the
world's first famous female mathematicians.
 Hippocrates is often called the "Father of Western Medicine."
 The word "biology" comes from the Greek words "bios" (meaning "life") and "logia"
(meaning "study of").
 The Greeks also made contributions to the study of map making or "cartography.
 INNOVATION

19 Greatest Inventions of the Roman Empire


That Helped Shape the Modern World
The technologically advanced ancient Roman Empire has a rich history of inventions, some of
which are still used today.

By Kashyap Vyas
March, 06th 2018

1, 2

The Roman Empire was one of the greatest empires, and one of the most influential civilizations
of all time.

Such historical importance can be attributed to being the largest city in the world of its time.

Rome even made possible the Colosseum, a true engineering marvel.

The impact of the Roman Empire in shaping the world's history is nothing but significant.
The Roman empire was fierce at war but it was also a pioneer of technical development and
many inventions.

Let’s have a look at the greatest inventions of ancient Rome!

1. The Roman Numerals

Source: Public Domain Pictures

The name gives it away, doesn’t it?

Roman numerals have survived the downfall of Roman Empire and are still in use today.

The modern educational institutions have a chapter dedicated to Roman Numerals and their
modern day equivalent values.

A solid number system denotes the technical development of city or country.

The Romans designed a system to do just that, and rest of the world benefitted from this
important Roman invention as much as the Roman citizens did.

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2. The First Newspaper
Source: Wknight94/Wikimedia Commons

It is incorrect to say that Romans were the ones to introduce the newspaper system because there
was no paper in their early years.

But Romans had something very similar to the newspapers. They used to inscribe current affairs
onto stones or metal slabs.

These were then placed in spots where people could read them. This publication was called Acta
Diurna or 'daily acts'.

This Roman invention carried the same purpose of newspapers, giving the Roman citizens the
information they need and the events of the day.

3. Modern Plumbing and Sanitary


Management
Source: Steven Fruitsmaak/Wikimedia Commons

Romans were always excellent when it came to civil engineering. But it isn’t the colosseums or
beautiful arches where they showed their complexity and knowledge in the trade.

You can see their engineering excellence in the way they have laid out their sewage and sanitary
plumbing.

The drainage pipes were mostly connected and were flushed regularly with the water running off
from streams.

They also had covered gutter systems that ensured that the streets stay without any form of
contamination.

4. Using Arches to Build Structures


Source: psyberartist/Wikimedia Commons

If you go deep into the history, you’ll find that Romans weren’t the ones who actually invented
arch based structures.
Architecture

Roman Arch Bridges: How Much Weight Can They Hold?


But Romans were the ones who actually used the properties of an arch to build great structures
and buildings.

In engineering terms, arches are better at load carrying than horizontal beams.

The Romans made good use of their properties to build magnificent structures that leave
onlookers in awe even today.

Not only that, the Romans added some design elements to transform a typical arch into a piece of
art.

5. Air Conditioning
Source: Ruth Hartnup/Flickr

Romans were really particular about living conditions and always aimed for perfection. This is
how they found the answer to curb the cold in winters.

It is really hard to keep a furnace lit 24/7 inside the home. So, the Romans came up with another
engineering innovation.

The ancient engineers decided to circulate hot air around the building through hollow spaces in
columns.

Since hot air always rises, the air is supplied from a furnace that is placed beneath the house or
structure.

The air will then rise up through the hollow spaces in the building, heating the whole building in
the process.
6. The Aqueducts: One of Most Advanced
Construction of Their Time

Source: Cruccone/Wikimedia Commons

The Roman Empire was blessed with more than adequate supply of water.

It would not have been possible if Romans hadn’t found a way to bring the water from the water
resources into the city.

For this purpose, Romans created aqueducts, used to tap water from the downhill flowing
streams.

The aqueducts were connected to a large water holding area, which would then supply it to
public amenities.

The whole process needed no external energy as it was achieved by the use of gravity!
It may seem easy to accomplish today, but in 312 BC, this was indeed a remarkable feat of
engineering.

7. The Making of the First Surgical Tools

Source: Fæ/Wikimedia Commons

Romans weren’t just about spears and dagger as they also pioneered in precision instruments that
gave birth to many modern-day surgical tools.

To have a slight idea about the surgical skills of the Romans, know that the cesarean section was
actually devised in Rome.

Roman emperors weren’t just keen on using such tool in hospitals or medical centers.

They were intrigued to know that such tools could also become helpful to soldiers who have
been injured in battles there and then.

Hence, Roman armies had medics who were in use for any complications in the battlefield. Their
prowess in the medical field doesn’t just end there, as they had also devised procedures that can
considerably reduce blood loss and even aesthetical administrations.
8. Developing Concrete to Strengthen Roman
Buildings

Source: Dilif/Wikimedia Commons

Don’t let the name deter you away because what we are talking about here is no alien stuff.

It is something that decorates the lands of the modern world. Yes, it is concrete.

Concrete was developed by the Romans to add structural integrity to their buildings.

Soon this substance gained widespread usage, and it is one of the reasons why most of the
Roman buildings stand tall even today.

9. Roads That Can Withstand Time


Source: Dirk.heldmaier/Wikimedia Commons

Roads have been built by every other civilization, right?

Well, this is where you go wrong, as Romans built roads that weren’t just a mix of gravel and
rocks.

The proof of their workmanship is evident as many of the old roads in Rome are being used even
today.

The Romans used a combination of dirt and gravel with bricks that are made from hardened
volcanic lava or granite. This combination made the roads immensely strong.

Come rain or any harsh weather; these roads were made to take some harsh beating.
They also constructed perfectly straight roads with slight banking to them. The banking ensured
that water doesn’t clog up the road after it rains.

It was found out that by 200 AD, the Romans had built a total of 50,000 miles worth of road.

These roads were then completed with directions and stone marks.

10. The Codex: the First Bound Book


Ordered by Caesar

Source: Tom Murphy VII/Wikimedia Commons

During the Roman empire, people used to store text in rock or clay slabs, which was heavy to
carry and also brittle in nature.

The use of papyrus or prehistoric paper was also limited to the problem of storing them.
This was when Julius Caesar decided to build the collection of papyrus to form a codex.

This provided a safer and more manageable way to keep the information secure.

This Roman invention was then widely used by the Christians to make codices of the bible.

11. Our Laws From Rome: the Habeas


Corpus and Many More

Source: vuralyavas/Wikimedia Commons

Many of our modern laws actually aren't modern at all.

If we trace back time, we can see that many of our laws were already part of the Roman judicial
system.

Many elements of modern law like the habeas corpus, pro bono publico, the affidavit document
were all part of the Roman judicial system.
It was then taken into the modern system, because they proved to be efficient and most
importantly, effective.

12. Better Living Standards for All

Source: Nick Youngson/Alpha Stock Images via Creative Commons Images

The Roman Empire didn’t always favor the rich and prosperous.

It was an empire that wanted to see the whole spectrum of its citizens to live a good life. Hence
the system of welfare was brought in.

The first initiation was the Lex Frumentaria, and it was through such a regime that the Romans
gave grains at a low price to the poor.

Such an act had a profound impact on the citizens who were on the low tier of the income group.
13. Developing the Julian Calendar

Source: The Roman Republic: Class handouts, Calendar of Numa, Vassar College/Wikimedia
Commons

Before the introduction of a formal calendar system in Rome, it was really hard to keep a track of
time and date.

Often the high officials altered the periods to make their working days seem more than what was
achieved.

Such a practice made Julius Caesar introduce a new form of calendar system which relied on the
solar year as opposed to the moon phases used in Rome.

It was called the Julian calendar. The Julian calendar was more accurate, and it was made to
include a leap year every four years to correct the discrepancies.

14. The Use of Apartments


Source: Andrés Nieto Porras/Wikimedia Commons

Since Roman Empire was very vast, the biggest in its time, there arose a problem.

The population was on the rise and people needed housing space to construct homes.

This was the time when the architects thought of a brilliant way of stacking floors atop of
buildings to create separate living spaces on the same foundation.

The result was apartments or insulae (islands) as they were called in Rome.

However, these apartments were reserved for medium to low-class citizens as the upper classes
preferred their own separate housing spaces.

15. Postal Service


Source: Pexels

The sheer size of the Roman Empire was turning against it at a point.

The information transfer between the provinces became very troublesome, and a solution had to
be devised.

This was when Emperor Augustus established a system that could help the situation.

It was a way by which messages and notices could be transferred between provinces with the
help of vehicles such as the horse cart.

Hence the first postal service in Europe was formed.

16. Corvus: The Deadly Bridge


Source: Lorenzo A. Castro/Wikimedia Commons

Corvus is an invention by Romans that applies to naval battles.

The Roman engineers invented the Corvus to have the upper hand in naval battles because, at
that time, Rome was a novice in regards to waterborne warfare.

The Corvus is nothing but a boarding device used to attach itself to an enemy ship.

When attached, the Romans and the enemy ship joined in such a way that Roman soldiers could
cross the border to get to the enemy ship.

Romans were known for their close combat skills, so this method proved to be very effective,
particularly in the Battle of Cape Ecnomus that took place in 256 BCE.

17. Testudo: The Tortoise Approach


Source: Ziko/Wikimedia Commons

Roman army was well-known for the various battle formations. Testudo or tortoise in Latin is a
formation that is effective against projectiles or missiles.

This formation required the Roman soldiers to position their shields in such a way that it formed
a roof like a barrier above their heads. The front would use their shields to form a wall-like
formation.

With this innovative formation, Roman soldiers were able to protect themselves from the front
and top side.

Although this type of formation wasn’t used in every battle, they used this strategy according to
the type of enemy that they faced.

18. Using Grid-based Layouts


Source: Paul Williams/Flickr

Controlling a vast amount of land, housing and building would have been a problem, if these
were not laid out correctly.

Romans found an innovative solution to this problem in grids.

If you look at the way Romans settles were laid out, you will realize that they followed a grid-
based system. Every road and path had an orderly structure.

This meant that segregating areas was easy and there were no clustered points. It brought about
the orderly nature of the Roman rule.

19. Pioneers of Siege Warfare


Source: Ramelli, Agostino/Wikimedia Commons

Rome didn’t invent siege warfare as such, but their contribution towards broadening its scope
and perfecting the techniques won’t go unnoticed.

They had weapons like the ballista (catapult) and the scorpion (long range crossbow), which
were brilliantly engineered to bring down the toughest of enemies. But what made them even
more deadly was the Romans ability to innovate.

They re-engineered the ballista and made a cost-effective version of it called the Onager. It was
cheaper to make but deadly as its predecessor.

The Roman Empire was indeed ahead of its time and has significantly contributed to building a
modern world.

Romans were always at the forefront of economy and aggression. Their engineering skills gave
birth to numerous inventions, which served as a starting point to the development of many
modern devices that we see today.

Ancient China
Inventions and Technology
History >> Ancient China

The Ancient Chinese were famous for their inventions and technology. Many of their inventions
had lasting impact on the entire world. Other inventions led to great feats of engineering like the
Grand Canal and the Great Wall of China.

Chinese Rocket by NASA


Here are some of the notable inventions and discoveries made by the engineers and scientists of
Ancient China:

Silk - Silk was a soft and light material much desired by the wealthy throughout the world. It
became such a valuable export that the trade route running from Europe to China became known
as the Silk Road. The Chinese learned how to make silk from the cocoons of silkworms. They
managed to keep the process for making silk a secret for hundreds of years.

Paper - Paper was invented by the Chinese as well as many interesting uses for paper like paper
money and playing cards. The first paper was invented in the 2nd century BC and the
manufacture later perfected around 105 AD.

Printing - Wood block printing was invented in AD 868 and then moveable type around 200
years later. This was actually hundreds of years before the invention of the printing press by
Gutenberg in Europe.

The Compass - The Chinese invented the magnetic compass to help determine the correct
direction. They used this in city planning at first, but it became very important to map makers
and for the navigation of ships.

The Diamond Sutra is the world's oldest printed book


from the British Library
Gunpowder - Gunpowder was invented in the 9th century by chemists trying to find the Elixir
of Immortality. Not long after, engineers figured out how to use gunpowder for military uses
such as bombs, guns, mines, and even rockets. They also invented fireworks and made great
beautiful displays of fireworks for celebrations.

Boat Rudder - The rudder was invented as a way to steer large ships. This enabled the Chinese
to build huge ships as early as 200 AD, well before they were ever built in Europe.

Other - Other inventions include the umbrella, porcelain, the wheelbarrow, iron casting, hot air
balloons, seismographs to measure earthquakes, kites, matches, stirrups for riding horses, and
acupuncture.
Fun Facts

 Gunpowder, paper, printing, and the compass are sometimes called the Four Great
Inventions of Ancient China.
 Kites were first used as a way for the army to signal warnings.
 Umbrellas were invented for protection from the sun as well as the rain.
 Chinese doctors knew about certain herbs to help sick people. They also knew that eating
good foods was important to being healthy.
 Compasses were often used to make sure that homes were built facing the correct
direction so they would be in harmony with nature.
 The Grand Canal in China is the longest manmade canal or river in the world. It is over
1,100 miles long and stretches from Beijing to Hangzhou.
 They invented the abacus in the 2nd century BC. This was a calculator that used sliding
beads to help compute math problems quickly.
 A clear coating called lacquer was made to protect and enhance certain works of art and
furniture.
 Paper money was first developed and used in China during the Tang dynasty (7th
century)
16 Significant Science and Tech Discoveries
Ancient India Gave the World
by Sanchari Pal July 30, 2016, 9:50 pm

“We owe a lot to the ancient Indians, teaching us how to count. Without which most modern scientific
discoveries would have been impossible.” – Albert Einstein

O ne of the oldest civilizations in the world, the Indian civilization has a strong tradition of
science and technology. Ancient India was a land of sages and seers as well as a land of scholars
and scientists. Research has shown that from making the best steel in the world to teaching the
world to count, India was actively contributing to the field of science and technology centuries
long before modern laboratories were set up. Many theories and techniques discovered by the
ancient Indians have created and strengthened the fundamentals of modern science and
technology. While some of these groundbreaking contributions have been acknowledged, some
are still unknown to most.

Here is a list of 16 contributions, made by ancient Indians


to the world of science and technology, that will make you
feel proud to be an Indian.
1. The Idea of Zero
Photo Source Left/Right

Little needs to be written about the mathematical digit ‘zero’, one of the most important
inventions of all time. Mathematician Aryabhata was the first person to create a symbol for zero
and it was through his efforts that mathematical operations like addition and subtraction started
using the digit, zero. The concept of zero and its integration into the place-value system also
enabled one to write numbers, no matter how large, by using only ten symbols.
2. The Decimal System

Photo Source Left/Right

India gave the ingenious method of expressing all numbers by means of ten symbols – the
decimal system. In this system, each symbol received a value of position as well as an absolute
value. Due to the simplicity of the decimal notation, which facilitated calculation, this system
made the uses of arithmetic in practical inventions much faster and easier.

3. Numeral Notations
Photo Source

Indians, as early as 500 BCE, had devised a system of different symbols for every number from
one to nine. This notation system was adopted by the Arabs who called it the
hind numerals. Centuries later, this notation system was adopted by the western world who
called them the Arabic numerals as it reached them through the Arab traders.

4. Fibbonacci Numbers
Photo Source

The Fibonacci numbers and their sequence first appear in Indian mathematics
as mātrāmeru, mentioned by Pingala in connection with the Sanskrit tradition of prosody. Later
on, the methods for the formation of these numbers were given by mathematicians Virahanka,
Gopala and Hemacandra , much before the Italian mathematician Fibonacci introduced the
fascinating sequence to Western European mathematics.
5. Binary Numbers

Photo Source

Binary numbers is the basic language in which computer programs are written. Binary basically
refers to a set of two numbers, 1 and 0, the combinations of which are called bits and bytes. The
binary number system was first described by the Vedic scholar Pingala, in his
book Chandahśāstra, which is the earliest known Sanskrit treatise on prosody ( the study of
poetic metres and verse).

6. Chakravala method of Algorithms


Photo Source Left/Right

The chakravala method is a cyclic algorithm to solve indeterminate quadratic equations,


including the Pell’s equation. This method for obtaining integer solutions was developed
by Brahmagupta, one of the well known mathematicians of the 7th century CE. Another
mathematician, Jayadeva later generalized this method for a wider range of equations, which was
further refined by Bhāskara II in his Bijaganita treatise.
7. Ruler Measurements

Photo Source

Excavations at Harappans sites have yielded rulers or linear measures made from ivory and shell.
Marked out in minute subdivisions with amazing accuracy, the calibrations correspond closely
with the hasta increments of 1 3/8 inches, traditionally used in the ancient architecture of South
India. Ancient bricks found at the excavation sites have dimensions that correspond to the units
on these rulers.

You May Also Like: 16 Fascinating Facts about Mohenjodaro and Indus Valley, a
Civilisation Far Ahead of its Time

8. A Theory of Atom
Photo Source

One of the notable scientists of the ancient India was Kanad who is said to have devised the
atomic theory centuries before John Dalton was born. He speculated the existence of anu or a
small indestructible particles, much like an atom. He also stated that anu can have two states —
absolute rest and a state of motion. He further held that atoms of same substance combined with
each other in a specific and synchronized manner to produce dvyanuka (diatomic molecules) and
tryanuka (triatomic molecules).
9. The Heliocentric Theory

Photo Story

Mathematicians of ancient India often applied their mathematical knowledge to make accurate
astronomical predictions. The most significant among them was Aryabhatta whose
book, Aryabhatiya, represented the pinnacle of astronomical knowledge at the time. He correctly
propounded that the Earth is round, rotates on its own axis and revolves around the Sun i.e the
heliocentric theory. He also made predictions about the solar and lunar eclipses, duration of the
day as well as the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

10. Wootz Steel


Photo Source

A pioneering steel alloy matrix developed in India, Wootz steel is a crucible steel characterized
by a pattern of bands that was known in the ancient world by many different names such
as Ukku, Hindwani and Seric Iron. This steel was used to make the famed Damascus swords of
yore that could cleave a free-falling silk scarf or a block of wood with the same ease. Produced
by the Tamils of the Chera Dynasty, the finest steel of the ancient world was made by heating
black magnetite ore in the presence of carbon in a sealed clay crucible kept inside a charcoal
furnace.

11. Smelting of Zinc


Photo Source

India was the first to smelt zinc by the distillation process, an advanced technique derived from a
long experience of ancient alchemy. The ancient Persians had also attempted to reduce zinc
oxide in an open furnace but had failed. Zawar in the Tiri valley of Rajasthan is the world’s
first known ancient zinc smelting site. The distillation technique of zinc production goes back to
the 12th Century AD and is an important contribution of India to the world of science.

12. Seamless Metal Globe

Photo Source Left/Right

Considered one of the most remarkable feats in metallurgy, the first seamless celestial globe was
made in Kashmir by Ali Kashmiri ibn Luqman in the reign of the Emperor Akbar. In a major feat
in metallurgy, Mughal metallurgists pioneered the method of lost-wax casting to make twenty
other globe masterpieces in the reign of the Mughal Empire. Before these globes were
rediscovered in the 1980s, modern metallurgists believed that it was technically impossible to
produce metal globes without any seams, even with modern technology.
13. Plastic Surgery

Photo Source

Written by Sushruta in 6th Century BC, Sushruta Samhita is considered to be one of the most
comprehensive textbooks on ancient surgery. The text mentions various illnesses, plants,
preparations and cures along with complex techniques of plastic surgery. The Sushruta Samhita
’s most well-known contribution to plastic surgery is the reconstruction of the nose, known also
as rhinoplasty.

14. Cataract Surgery


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The first cataract surgery is said to have been performed by the ancient Indian physician
Sushruta, way back in 6th century BCE. To remove the cataract from the eyes, he used a curved
needle, Jabamukhi Salaka, to loosen the lens and push the cataract out of the field of vision. The
eye would then be bandaged for a few days till it healed completely. Sushruta’s surgical works
were later translated to Arabic language and through the Arabs, his works were introduced to the
West.

15. Ayurveda
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Long before the birth of Hippocrates, Charaka authored a foundational text, Charakasamhita, on
the ancient science of Ayurveda. Referred to as the Father of Indian Medicine, Charaka was was
the first physician to present the concept of digestion, metabolism and immunity in his book.
Charaka’s ancient manual on preventive medicine remained a standard work on the subject for
two millennia and was translated into many foreign languages, including Arabic and Latin.

16. Iron-Cased Rockets


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The first iron-cased rockets were developed in the 1780s by Tipu Sultan of Mysore who
successfully used these rockets against the larger forces of the British East India Company
during the Anglo-Mysore Wars. He crafted long iron tubes, filled them with gunpowder and
fastened them to bamboo poles to create the predecessor of the modern rocket. With a range of
about 2 km, these rockets were the best in the world at that time and caused as much fear and
confusion as damage. Due to them, the British suffered one of their worst ever defeats in India at
the hands of Tipu.
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