Check out this ancient technology we still can’t replicate today! From flexible glass to greek fire, this mysterious top 10 list of advanced ancient inventions science still can’t explain to this day is surprising!
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10. Damascus Steel
Damascus steel refers to two different types of iron-based materials that can be identified by the watery pattern on the surface that is produced by the controlled manipulation of the iron and steel. It originated in India and the Middle East, and was first known to the Europeans in the 3rd century through trading with Damascus. What was noticeable about this method of making steel, and therefore blades for swords, was that it was much stronger and more flexible than traditional iron. Those who wielded a Damascus steel sword were much feared, because it was quite a mighty weapon.
While, today, there are production processes that make steel far stronger than Damascus steel, it was still ahead of its time and practically impossible to replicate today. It was made by adding precise amounts of other compounds into the steel as it was being hammered, and these became part of the molecular structure of the substance. It was a perfected technique, and one that is simply impossible to reproduce without the know-how of those who invented it in the first place.
9. Ferlite Watch
In 1912 a discovery was made in a London cellar that would become known as the Cheapside Hoard. It’s the largest collection ever found of Elizabethan and Jacobean Jewellery! Full of gemstones, necklaces, rings, and cameos, everything deserves to be admired.
The gemstones come from all over the world and it shows technical skills and cutting styles that jewelers today still don’t know how to replicate since they were passed down from generation to generation.
One item in particular really stands out- the Ferlite watch, named after the jeweler who created it. It’s so meticulously crafted that it had a calendar, an alarm, and scrolling decoration. Forensic analysis of the watch has shown that incredibly advanced technologies were used to create all of the components. Experts are calling it the “ipod of its day”!
Some of the tech includes the ability to apply extremely thin films of metal to objects, with more precision than we can do today with solar cells and electronic devices. Researchers from Birmingham City University scanned the watch in detail and recreated the pieces using a 3D printer. Even though we now have the pieces, the race is now on to try and learn how it was actually made, because it could improve manufacturing processes and reduce the amount of raw materials needed to produce electronic equipment, and also help to preserve artefacts that have worn away over time.
Thanks to 3-D printing, the Museum of London now offers visitors the chance to handle this 16th century gadget! (The copy, clearly not the original!)
8. Roman Concrete
The Romans built a lot- whether it was roads, statues, or grand buildings- but perhaps the most impressive thing about the structures that they made is the fact that the concrete still holds together today, more than 1,500 years after it was mixed. This is far longer than modern versions of concrete last, and no one’s entirely sure how they were able to do this! What was the secret recipe??
Many attempts have been made to try and determine the ingredients that they used. It seems to be a combination of volcanic ash, calcium oxide, seawater, and lumps of volcanic rock, as well as leftover rubble. It was even used to build gigantic structures like piers and harbours, and actually became stronger over time. This is the key to the success of the concrete. Scientists believe that there are rare elements within it that crystallize when water seeps in and begins to erode cracks, making it tougher. By contrast, today’s concrete is designed to stay unchanged after it hardens, but the Romans have shown that there is a better way.
Further research is needed to understand exactly why it works in the way it does, but if the precise list of ingredients can be determined, it could change the face of construction forever. Buildings could be more resistant and more beautiful!
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