6 surprising things invented by ancient Egyptians

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

6 surprising things invented by ancient Egyptians

The ancient Egyptians were one of the most intriguing and mysterious civilizations in history. They erected enormous stone pyramids without the use of any of the heavy machinery we have today, they had a culture rich in mythology and unique ideas about death and the afterlife, and they were one of the first groups of people to translate their spoken language into a written one. You don’t have to be an Egyptologist to know that we owe the Egyptians big time for many of the ideas we still use today, but it may surprise you to learn that these six things we use on a regular basis were invented by the ancient Egyptians as well.

Paper

Credit: JoseIgnacioSoto / iStock

Okay, so this first one isn’t so surprising. Egyptians invented writing, so it makes sense that they invented paper, too. Before the Egyptians started using papyrus to write on, everyone else was using clay tablets, stones, animal hides, or wood. Once papyrus was created (by pressing together pieces of the stalk of a papyrus plant to make a smooth surface), it changed the way people wrote all over the world. Papyrus was exported to places all over the Mediterranean, and the idea was eventually refined into the paper we use today.

Toothpaste

Credit: elfgradost / iStock

Speaking of papyrus, the oldest formula for toothpaste ever written was found on a piece of papyrus that is said to be more than 1,700 years old. The writer of the recipe called it “a powder for white and perfect teeth,” which, when mixed with saliva, forms a “tooth paste” that cleans teeth. Ingredients included rock salt, mint, dried iris flower, and crushed pepper. One dentist who tried it said that it made his gums bleed, but that it was much more effective than some other toothpastes that were created in the last century.

Prosthetic limbs

Credit: Warut1 / iStock

Scientists knew that the ancient Egyptian civilization was advanced, but they didn’t know just how advanced it was until they discovered a prosthetic toe on the foot of a female mummy that dates back to sometime between 950 to 710 B.C. While false body parts were often attached to mummies for burial purposes, experts are in agreement that this toe was in fact used while the person was still alive. The wear and tear on the papier-mâché-type appendage (which was thought to be tied onto the foot or a sandal with string) proved that it was used to help the person walk, which means that we may have to thank the Egyptians for passing down their knowledge of prosthetics to modern-day doctors.

The modern calendar

Credit: AndreyPopov / iStock

While Egyptians weren’t the first to invent a calendar, they were the ones who invented the calendar we use today. Since farming was very important to the Egyptians, they made up a schedule of when the different seasons were (the flooding season, the sowing season, and the harvesting season) to make their farming practices more efficient. After doing extensive research on the movements of the stars and the solar cycle, they broke each season into four months, each with 30 days (with a couple extra at the end of the season), which gave us the 365 day calendar we have been using ever since.

Scissors

Credit: ANGHI / iStock

For some reason, many scholars credit Leonardo da Vinci with inventing scissors (maybe because he invented so darn many other things). There is proof, though, that the Ancient Egyptians were using scissors long before da Vinci was even born—way back in 1500 B.C., to be precise. These scissors were composed of a single piece of bronze formed into two blades and held together by a strip of metal. The strip of metal kept the blades apart until they were squeezed together to cut things.

Locks

Credit: altmodern / iStock

The oldest lock known to man was extracted from the remains of an Egyptian palace, and it was surprisingly complex. The lock consisted of “a wooden bolt securing a door, with a slot with several holes on its upper surface. A device attached to the door contained wooden pins which would drop into the holes and secure the bolt.” A wooden key with matching pins would be inserted into the lock to open it, giving later civilizations some great ideas to work with when they started coming up with their own security systems.

6 surprising things invented by ancient Egyptians

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

6 surprising things invented by ancient Egyptians

The ancient Egyptians were one of the most intriguing and mysterious civilizations in history. They erected enormous stone pyramids without the use of any of the heavy machinery we have today, they had a culture rich in mythology and unique ideas about death and the afterlife, and they were one of the first groups of people to translate their spoken language into a written one. You don’t have to be an Egyptologist to know that we owe the Egyptians big time for many of the ideas we still use today, but it may surprise you to learn that these six things we use on a regular basis were invented by the ancient Egyptians as well.

Paper

Credit: JoseIgnacioSoto / iStock

Okay, so this first one isn’t so surprising. Egyptians invented writing, so it makes sense that they invented paper, too. Before the Egyptians started using papyrus to write on, everyone else was using clay tablets, stones, animal hides, or wood. Once papyrus was created (by pressing together pieces of the stalk of a papyrus plant to make a smooth surface), it changed the way people wrote all over the world. Papyrus was exported to places all over the Mediterranean, and the idea was eventually refined into the paper we use today.

Toothpaste

Credit: elfgradost / iStock

Speaking of papyrus, the oldest formula for toothpaste ever written was found on a piece of papyrus that is said to be more than 1,700 years old. The writer of the recipe called it “a powder for white and perfect teeth,” which, when mixed with saliva, forms a “tooth paste” that cleans teeth. Ingredients included rock salt, mint, dried iris flower, and crushed pepper. One dentist who tried it said that it made his gums bleed, but that it was much more effective than some other toothpastes that were created in the last century.

Prosthetic limbs

Credit: Warut1 / iStock

Scientists knew that the ancient Egyptian civilization was advanced, but they didn’t know just how advanced it was until they discovered a prosthetic toe on the foot of a female mummy that dates back to sometime between 950 to 710 B.C. While false body parts were often attached to mummies for burial purposes, experts are in agreement that this toe was in fact used while the person was still alive. The wear and tear on the papier-mâché-type appendage (which was thought to be tied onto the foot or a sandal with string) proved that it was used to help the person walk, which means that we may have to thank the Egyptians for passing down their knowledge of prosthetics to modern-day doctors.

The modern calendar

Credit: AndreyPopov / iStock

While Egyptians weren’t the first to invent a calendar, they were the ones who invented the calendar we use today. Since farming was very important to the Egyptians, they made up a schedule of when the different seasons were (the flooding season, the sowing season, and the harvesting season) to make their farming practices more efficient. After doing extensive research on the movements of the stars and the solar cycle, they broke each season into four months, each with 30 days (with a couple extra at the end of the season), which gave us the 365 day calendar we have been using ever since.

Scissors

Credit: ANGHI / iStock

For some reason, many scholars credit Leonardo da Vinci with inventing scissors (maybe because he invented so darn many other things). There is proof, though, that the Ancient Egyptians were using scissors long before da Vinci was even born—way back in 1500 B.C., to be precise. These scissors were composed of a single piece of bronze formed into two blades and held together by a strip of metal. The strip of metal kept the blades apart until they were squeezed together to cut things.

Locks

Credit: altmodern / iStock

The oldest lock known to man was extracted from the remains of an Egyptian palace, and it was surprisingly complex. The lock consisted of “a wooden bolt securing a door, with a slot with several holes on its upper surface. A device attached to the door contained wooden pins which would drop into the holes and secure the bolt.” A wooden key with matching pins would be inserted into the lock to open it, giving later civilizations some great ideas to work with when they started coming up with their own security systems.

3 products originally designed to do something else

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

3 products originally designed to do something else

Genius may strike in a moment of profound reflection, but the history books write of the divine spark that was lit by serendipity. It was out of frustration from his inability to rid his wine of bubbles that the Benedictine monk Dom Perignon took a sip to exclaim, “Come quickly! I am drinking the stars!”

Like the Champagne of the good monk, countless inventions prior and following arose out of research for a different application. Many have gone on to become cultural treasures.

The Slinky

Credit: Cem Ekiztas / Shutterstock.com

Many of humanity’s greatest inventions have come about through military research. This may come as no surprise in the case of inventions with clear wartime applications like nuclear fission or the internet. It is, however, a bit more surprising to realize that a number of children’s toys come from the same research environments.

Richard James was an engineer at a U.S. shipyard during WWII when he dropped a spring from his worktable. James fumbled for the coil as it fell to the floor when he noticed the way it “walked” of its own accord. Bemused and fascinated, James began experimenting with wires of different thickness, lengths, and tensions until he settled for 80 feet of coiled steel wire in a helical spring. In 1945, Gimbels department store allowed James to demonstrate his invention to shoppers. All 400 Slinkys were sold that day.

Silly Putty

Credit: redarmy030 / iStock

While Richard James toiled on the shipyard, many other researchers dedicated their time to key resources for the war effort. With applications in gas masks, life rafts, and airplanes, one of the most important of these resources was rubber. It was with this in mind that the Japanese targeted rubber plants across Asia in the early phases of the war and, in the same breath, that the U.S. government employed research for synthetic rubbers that could be produced without restricted ingredients.

In 1943, James Wright was conducting rubber research in New Haven, Connecticut, when he combined boric acid with silicone oil. Wright observed a number of odd characteristics of the substance. It stretched farther than rubber, it bounced when dropped, and it had a very high melting temperature. Upon sending samples to his superiors, Wright’s response from the U.S. government was that they wanted nothing to do with his “nutty putty.”

Seven years later, Wright brought the substance to a toy store with the help of advertiser Peter Hodgson. Sales initially stalled until a reporter from The New Yorker happened upon one of the colorful eggs and wrote a piece about Silly Putty. The article launched Silly Putty into the national spotlight, and sales skyrocketed.

LSD

Credit: Misha Kaminsky / iStock

In the early 1900s, the Swiss chemical company Sandoz was less concerned with tangerine trees and marmalade skies than they were with marketable products like saccharin and respiratory stimulants. However, in 1929, a scientist named Albert Hofmann would begin work on a substance that was destined to change the cultural landscape of the United States.

Hofmann was doing research on ergot, a toxic fungus that grew on grains and led to a condition described in the Middle Ages as St. Anthony’s fire—characterized by blisters and necrotic flesh. In addition to this horrific ailment, the fungus had also been deliberately used in controlled quantities to induce miscarriage in medieval Europe. Sandoz was interested in ergot as a vasoconstrictor and cardiorespiratory stimulant.

Hofmann developed a synthetic method to produce the active ingredient of ergot fungus, lysergic acid, and quickly went to work on producing various compounds with the substance. Hofmann never explained why he was so fascinated with the 25th sample of his experiments, but even after rejection from the Sandoz board, he went back to resynthesize the compound. The story goes that Hofmann accidentally touched LSD-25 before the entry in his journal explained the rest. On April 16, 1943, Hofmann wrote:

I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dream-like state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted steam of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors.”

Albert Hofmann’s accidental ingestion of LSD became known as “bicycle day” after his choice of transport from the lab that day.