9 Amazing Technologies of the Ancient World

If you think that technological advancements are unique to this era, with the information age in full swing and robots trying to take over the world, you’re sorely mistaken. Literature, film or television may have given us some insight into the inventiveness of our ancestors, but many of us are unaware that they were much more advanced. Maybe the population wasn’t much, but there was no shortage of geniuses.

Ancient Technology

Thousands of years ago, technologies were invented, designed and created that never cease to amaze us today, especially because development did not have all the facilities of the modern world. From special refrigerators that kept ice in the middle of the desert to majestic analog computers that pointed out the configuration of our Solar System two millennia ago.

1 – The steel of Damascus.

In the past, Damascus steel was used in the construction of swords and today, the material is still rescued for its enormous strength. A blade made of this material can cut from a falling strand of hair to split the barrel of a rifle if it is given enough power. Damascus steel is famous for its “resistance to destruction.”

Knife Damascus Steel Aqueous Patterns

The material is almost legendary, and in the past it was used by all kinds of warriors, including the Crusaders. It is said that those swords made of Damascus steel could go through numerous battles and stay sharp enough to cut off a hair that fell. The leaves are very characteristic and easily recognizable by the aqueous patterns called “Damask“. The original technique was lost but, fortunately, the technology is fully deciphered and even (less resistant) imitations are built reproducing the aforementioned patterns.

2 – A freezer in the desert.

As far back as 400 B.C., Persian engineers had already mastered a technique for storing ice in the middle of the desert during hot summers. These so-called “Yakhchal” pits were the first refrigerators created by humans and were basically storehouses for the chunks of ice that the Persians transported from nearby mountains during the winter.


Obviously, in addition to ice, these structures served to keep food fresh during the summer. Perhaps for many it is nothing more than a large clay dome; However, the implementation of such a technology was particularly difficult, especially at that time.

Underground, these 500-cubic-meter structures featured several wind receptors that managed to keep temperatures low even in the hottest moments.

3 – The spectacular Roman concrete.

Roman concrete is not only better and stronger than modern concrete, it is also environmentally friendly and very durable, like the one in the image that is more than two thousand years old. Anyone fascinated by architecture has undoubtedly heard of this spectacular material. This cement is the secret of the ancient Roman concrete structures, some of which are located in ports where they manage to resist the incessant onslaught of the waves.

interior of the Pantheon in Rome
Interior of the Pantheon in Rome

Roman cement has incredible long-lasting properties, and was made from a mixture of clay, limestone, silica, gypsum, and other ingredients that were melted at very high temperatures.

4 – Archimedes’ screw.

Popularly known as the “Archimedes screw”, this device was designed in such a way that it could move water upwards with the help of gravity. But, if the direction of rotation is reversed, then it generates energy that pushes the water downwards.

Archimedes Screw

In the past, the mechanism was used for irrigation. And it’s nothing more than a screw with a hollow tube in the center that used to be operated by hand. Subsequently, wind energy was used to power it and it is a technology that managed to survive the passage of time; Today, however, the mechanism is driven by a motor.

5 – The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni.

This construction, made by workers on the island of Malta, has acoustic properties that amplify voices with the help of specific frequencies so surprising that you literally feel them go through your body. In this complex of chambers and corridors there is a special enclosure created with limestone.

Hal Saflieni's Hypogeum

The moment you stand inside this chamber and speak or sing, your voice resonates so solidly that you can feel your body vibrate. According to some historians, these kinds of chambers were created specifically for the oracles to impact and deeply impress the people who came to consult them.

6 – The domes and vaults of Mexico.

Without resorting to formwork or roof mounts, this ancient masonry technology in Mexico allows the construction of vaults and domes with nothing more than the bucket. In the city of Tequisquiapan, Querétaro, a class of masons known as “vaulters” maintain an ancient construction technique that allows them to erect Catalan vaults and/or domed roofs with a simple spoon, the instrument with which they apply the concrete mixture to the bricks.

At first glance, the technique doesn’t seem like anything to write home about, but appearances can be deceiving. The method is something special, and perfecting it takes a lot of practice.

7 – The inventions of Heron of Alexandria.

Heron of Alexandria was an engineer known for designing the first robot in history, whose sole purpose was to entertain audiences in a theater. His work was not only capable of moving, it could also change direction. As if that wasn’t enough, this guy also developed his version of a wind-powered wheel and a primitive model of syringe.

The inventions of Heron of Alexandria were fascinating not only to the people of his time, but also to those of our day. Another of his creations was an organ that operated by means of an aeolian wheel. It’s fair to call him the “Tony Stark” of old.

Organ: Wind Heron of Alexandria

This guy also developed a steam engine.

8 – The ramps of the Egyptians.

Many have dedicated their lives to studying Egypt and its ancient culture, while also trying to unearth its history. However, there are still many gaps in information about this town, and among the most enigmatic is the one we share with you today.

The ancient Egyptians have been widely recognized for their amazing architectural and construction skills, which allowed them to build the famous pyramids. Lacking adequate tools to corroborate the measurements of their designs, they worked things out really well. And many believe that the Egyptians used ramps to transport the heavy materials needed to materialize the majestic structures that came out of their minds.

Egyptian Ramps

As ramps facilitate the movement of heavy structures, it is believed that it would have been impossible for the Egyptians to build their structures without proper ramps that would allow them to lift and transport the materials. Lifting those huge pieces vertically was impossible at the time.

9 – The Antikythera Mechanism.

Do you think it’s possible that two thousand years ago they had the ability to build a computer? The Antikythera Mechanism may not have allowed them to surf the Internet, but today it is recognized as the oldest computing device. Created by the Greeks, its main purpose was to describe the position of the planets, in addition to the position of the stars in the sky based on a monthly calendar.

Antikythera mechanism

About a century ago, divers discovered part of the contraption in a shipwreck off the coast of a Greek island. They had no idea that this piece of bronze was an achievement in the understanding of human history. The device featured a series of gears made of brass and dials mounted on a kind of clock. With perfect calibration, the Greeks placed two dozen gears on top of each other.

Soon after, archaeologists surmised that it was some kind of ancient analog clock, or perhaps some kind of calculating tool. But, in 1959, Derek J. Solla Price revealed that the Antikythera Mechanism was used to know the exact position of planets and stars in the Universe. He mentioned that the mechanism was an impressive astronomical clock or, in other words, an analog computer.