Some Ancient Inventions that Lost Over Time

In the modern world, we all are seeing new inventions shaping the world we know. From the wheel to airplanes, computers, smartphones, all are the greatest ideas of the inventors who made their dreams a reality. But these are the modern inventions that we are talking about. Have you ever wondered how more advanced human beings could have been in the Dark Ages? You must be wondering how humans were more advanced in ancient times when there is no technology available? But there are many Ancient inventions that lost over time and we have lost the secret of making them.

Ancient Inventions
Ancient Inventions

In this very article, we are going to take you through the past, to find inventions that were lost that could’ve changed the world. So, let’s get started with the article.

Lost Damascus Steel

Damascus Steel is an invention lost due to a lack of source material. This blade was forged in the Near East from ingots of Wootz steel. According to the sources, the steel was made from ore deposits originating in India and Sri Lanka.

Lost Invention Damascus Steel
Damascus Steel

These Steel blades were reputed to be tough, resistant to shattering, and capable of being honed to a sharp, resilient edge. This steel is named after Damascus, the capital city of Syria. It was one of the largest cities in the ancient Levant. The Damascus steel is known by its distinctive pattern, extreme toughness and ability to be honed to an extreme sharpness.

Damascus bladesmith
Damascus blade-smith

Therefore, its reputation and history have given rise to many legends due to its ability to cut through a rifle barrel or to cut a hair falling across the blade.

However, its production was brought to an end rather unceremoniously in the late 1900s, as the raw material deposits ran out.

Lost Ancient Invention- The Greek Fire

One of the greatest kept secrets of all time is the Greek fire. However, you can’t really talk about lost inventions without mentioning it. Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire used Greek fire, an inflammatory weapon, around 672. It was used to set light to enemy ships.

Lost Invention Greek Fire
Greek Fire

Greeks besieged used Greek fire for the first time in Constantinople (673–78). Some of the historians believed that it could be ignited on contact with water and was probably based on naphtha and quicklime.

Byzantine military manuals and other historical sources such as Anna Komnene and Western European chroniclers, has provided all the information about the Greek Fire, which is often inaccurate.

Theories about the composition of the Greek Fire.

1. For a long time, the most popular theory held that the chief ingredient was saltpeter, making it an early form of gunpowder. But this view has been rejected. Since saltpeter doesn’t appear to have been used in warfare in Europe or the Middle East before the 13th century. Also, it was absent from the accounts of the Muslim writers – the foremost chemists of the early medieval world – before the same period.

2. Another view was based on the fact that water caused the Greek fire. Some sources suggest that water intensified the flames. Thus, it was suggested that its destructive power was the result of the explosive reaction between water and quicklime. More Info here.

Greek Fire
Greek Fire

“This fire is made by the following arts. From the pine and such evergreen trees, the inflammable resin is collected. This is rubbed with sulfur and put into tubes of reed, and is blown by men using it with the violent and continuous breath. In this manner, it meets the fire on the tip and then it catches the light and falls like a fiery whirlwind on the faces of the enemies”.

Although the Greek fire remained a potent weapon, its limitations were significant when compared to more traditional forms of artillery. It had a limited range, and it could be used safely only in a calm sea and with favorable wind conditions.

Global wireless power

Nikola Tesla, born on 10th July 1856, was a Serbian-American. He was an inventor, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, and futurist. Tesla was best known for his contributions in the field of alternating current (AC) system. He provided many life-changing inventions to the world. But unfortunately, one of his greatest ideas never took off and i.e. the Global Wireless Power.

Tesla designed an electrical power delivery system based on his theories of using Earth and its atmosphere as electrical conductors.

Lost Invention Global wireless power
Global wireless power

He believed and claimed this system would allow for “the transmission of electric energy without wires” on global scales. It would also allow point-to-point wireless telecommunications and broadcasting.

Thus, Tesla spoke publicly and made statements citing two related methods to accomplish this from the mid-1890s onwards. And by the end of the 1900s, he had convinced banker J. P. Morgan for funding this operation.

He convinced Morgan for the construction of a wireless station based on his ideas intended to transmit messages across the Atlantic to England and to ships at sea.

Unfortunately, this great project was abandoned in 1906 and never resurrected, due to many reasons including withdrawal of funding from Morgan.

Sloot Digital Coding System

Sloot Digital Coding System was a revolutionary data sharing technique developed by Romke Jan Bernhard Sloot. He was a Dutch electronics engineer. In 1995, he claimed to store a complete movie in 8 kilobytes of data.

Even with modern techniques, a very low-quality video file normally requires 10,000 times more storage.

Sloot digital coding

But, he died suddenly on July 11, 1999, of a heart attack, just days before the conclusion of a contract to sell the invention. The coding system’s full source code was never recovered or reproduced.

Lost Invention – The Antikythera Mechanism

This is quite possibly the most spectacular ancient artifact ever recovered. Archaeologist Valerios Stais was the first person who retrieved it in 1901 from the sea and was identified on 17 May 1902 as containing a gear.

The Antikythera Mechanism
The Antikythera Mechanism

It is believed that it is an ancient analog computer that was once used to predict astronomical positions. It was also used to predict eclipses in advance and to track the four-year cycle of athletic games which was similar to an Olympiad.

The Detailed imaging of this mechanism suggests that it had 37 gear wheels. It enabled it to follow the movements of the Moon and the Sun through the zodiac. This allowed it to predict eclipses and even model the irregular orbit of the Moon, where the Moon’s velocity is higher in its perigee than in its apogee.

This motion was studied by astronomer Hipparchus of Rhodes in the 2nd century BC. But the knowledge of this technology was lost at some point.

Chronovisor – A device used by the Vatican

According to reports and stories that have been published through the years, an Italian newspaper shocked the world when it published details of a secret machine held by the Vatican called Chronovisor.

It is believed that this device enables the user to observe the future as well as past events. It was reported that this machine was invented by Father Pellegrino Maria Ernetti in the 1950s.

Ernetti said that he had observed many historical events including Christ’s crucifixion and photographed it as well.

Christ crucifixion
Christ crucifixion

Ernetti said that he had also witnessed a performance in Rome in 169 BC of the lost tragedy, Thyestes, by the father of Latin poetry, Quintus Ennius.

But he lacked hard evidence for these claims or proof the invention exists. Despite this, there is a belief that this device is still being used today – deep in the vault of the Vatican.

Starlite – The Unburned Material

Starlite was invented by Maurice Ward during the 1970s and 1980s. It is a material claimed to be able to withstand and insulate from intense heat. He was a British amateur chemist and a hairdresser.

Under lab tests, Starlite was claimed to be able to withstand attack by a laser beam that could produce a temperature of 10,000 degrees Celsius.

Maurice Ward allowed various organizations to conduct tests on samples but did not permit them to retain samples for fear of reverse engineering. The ICI and Atomic Weapons Establishment conducted tests on the material and confirmed the claims.

Even NASA displayed interest in the material. But it was very unfortunate that the Starlite’s composition was kept a secret by Ward. And after his passing, no one knew the secret, not even his family.

The Lycurgus Cup – Roman Nanotechnology

It is a 4th-century Roman glass cage cup made of dichroic glass. This cup displays different colors depending on if or not light is passing through it: red when lit from behind and green when lit from in front. It represents the perfect example of ancient nanotechnology and now stored in the British Museum.

lycurgus cup
Lycurgus cup

By mixing tiny proportions of nano-particles of gold and silver dispersed in colloidal form throughout the glass material.

However, the process used still remains unclear, and it is likely that the makers didn’t understand or control it well. Many historians believed that it may have been achieved by mistake. If you want to read in detail about this historic glass, refer to this link.

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9 thoughts on “Some Ancient Inventions that Lost Over Time

  1. It is very informational. Very good content. I am looking forward to reading more interesting articles on your website

  2. This is very good content and we got to know about ancient inventions. and looking forward more interesting articles

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