When going about your daily routine, have you ever looked around and stopped to wonder who invented some of the products that you use everyday? If you have, you might be surprised to learn that many everyday items have been invented by the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians. What’s even more amazing is discovering how these civilizations came up with their ideas. Following are some of the items that help make our lives a lot easier thanks to the genius of the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians:
Condoms were invented in 3000 B.C. in Egypt. Ancient drawings clearly depict men wearing condoms–sometimes made of material that may have been animal hide. It’s not clear however, whether condoms were used for sex or ceremonial dress.
High Heel Shoes
Although high heeled shoes are depicted in ancient Egyptian murals on tombs and temples, the earliest recorded instance of men or women wearing an elevated shoe comes from Hellenic times. There is evidence however, that during ancient times, both men and women wore high heeled shoes for ceremonial purposes. And this may totally gross out Carrie Bradshaw, but there is also evidence that Egyptian butchers wore high heels to help them walk above the blood of dead beasts!
In 4000 B.C, Ancient Egyptians invented the first substance-like paper as we know it today. Papyrus was a woven mat of reeds, pounded together into a hard, thin sheet. The word “paper” actually comes from the word “papyrus”. Later on in history, the Ancient Greeks used a kind of parchment made from animal skins for the same purpose.
After discovering papryrus, the Egyptians realized that they needed an instrument that would allow them to make character marks on this new parchment. As bones and metal sticks were no longer useful, the Egyptians created a reed-pen that was perfect for use with the papyrus. These were mostly the hollow tubular-stems of marsh grasses, especially from the bamboo plant. And thus, ancient Egyptians converted bamboo stems into a primitive form of a fountain pen. They cut one end into the form of a pen nib or point. A writing fluid or ink filled the stem and the reed forced the fluid to the nib.
While the Egyptians are credited with discovering medicine, they viewed illness and healing in a much different way than we do. The Egyptians conceived health and sickness as an unceasing fight between good and evil. According to historical records, ancient Egyptians involved in the medical and pharmaceutical profession used to recite certain incantations while preparing or administering medications. But while at first glance the Egyptians’ approach to healing and medication may seem rather crude, they are actually credited with discovering many diagnostics we still use today:
The earliest known surgery in Egypt was performed around 2750 BC. Imhotep in the 3rd dynasty is sometimes credited with being the first Dr. McDreamy and the founder of ancient Egyptian medicine along with being the original author of the Edwin Smith Papyrus, which details cures, ailments and anatomical observations.
The Edwin Smith Papyrus is regarded as a copy of several earlier works and was written circa 1600 BC. It is an ancient textbook on surgery almost completely devoid of magical thinking and describes in exquisite detail the examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of numerous ailments.
The Kahun Gynaecological Papyrus treats women’s complaints, including problems with conception. Dating to 1800 BC, it is the oldest surviving medical text of any kind.
Medical institutions, referred to as Houses of Life are known to have been established in ancient Egypt as early as the 1st Dynasty.
By the time of the 19th Dynasty some workers enjoyed such benefits as medical insurance, pensions and sick leave.
Also, the earliest known woman physician, Peseshet, practiced in Ancient Egypt at the time of the 4th dynasty. Her title was “Lady Overseer of the Lady Physicians.” In addition to her supervisory role, Peseshet trained midwives at an ancient Egyptian medical school in Sais.
As inconceivable as it may sound, Joan Rivers did not discover makeup. But someone just as ancient did…the Egyptians. Egyptians used cosmetics regardless of sex and social status for both aesthetic and therapeutic reasons. They also believed that makeup had magical and even healing powers. Oils and unguents were rubbed into the skin to protect it from the hot air.
Most frequently used were white make-up, black make-up made with carbon, lead sulphide or manganese oxide and green make-up from malachite and other copper based minerals. Red ochre was ground and mixed with water, and applied to the lips and cheeks, painted on with a brush. Henna was used to dye the fingernails yellow and orange.
Without the Greeks, things may be a lot dirtier in our civilization. Some of the more interesting inventions from the Greeks that we use in our bathrooms include:
Escapement: This is essentially a sink with running water that we use on a daily basis. Created in the 200s BC by Philo of Byzantium, the Greeks used a washstand that was automated so that individuals could wash their hands with each.
Plumbing: In the 400s BC, Athens began to develop highly extensive plumbing systems for baths and fountains, as well as for personal use within individual homes. This would be the first place where plumbing would be in use.
Showers: In the 300s BC, showers were created and have been documented on vases that depict female athletes using a shower. In the 100s BC in Pergamum, an entire complex of showers and baths was created within a gymnasium.
Every time you plop money into a machine for a chocolate bar, you can thank the Ancient Greeks. Created by Hero of Alexandria, the original vending machine dispensed water when a coin was put in. When the coin went in, it fell on a pan that was itself attached to a lever, which opened a valve. The pan would tilt until the coin fell off, thereby turning off the water.
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