As the human species tends to have a fairly short memory, hence its invention of written history so it can sort of, maybe, try and keep up with its own deeds and evolution, it’s quite often that those living in a certain time period take certain technologies or services for granted and are convinced that they are benefiting from them due to their massive intelligence leap as opposed to their predecessors’ undoubtedly tinier brains.
Add to that the individual human being’s generally short attention span and you get a surefire scenario of self-importance and certainty that is liable to prejudice the work of others in the past.
So, long story short, to point out that the above mentioned way of reasoning is detrimental, here’s 5 things invented earlier than people think.
1. Food And Drink In A Hurry
This one comes from the good old Romans. Did you know they invented fast food? If you did, well then good for you. If not, stop gaping and let it sink in. Next time you go to your favorite fast food eatery, picture some badass lower class Romans (because the rich had lavish dinners at their estates) going into a similar joint 2000 years ago or so, with their ever-accompanying weapons and ordering something also consisting of fried meat bread and some other stuff for taste. They could opt to eat there or go back about their virile business. In either case, they have one on you, as fast foods in antiquity also served alcohol as opposed to most modern ones!
Turns out the whole Antonio Meucci’s the real inventor of the telephone not Alexander Graham Bell idea is correct only if viewed from the perspective of a telephone using electricity as modern phones do. Because if we extend the definition of telephone to the idea of at least 2 persons communicating, via receivers, at a distance (not next to each other) and without being able to hear themselves if they weren’t using the communicating device, then prepare to be amazed. Because the old Chimu civilization of modern-day Peru did that about 1,200 years ago. To a range of 22 metres, using two gourd receivers connected with twine cord, which also had special hidden membranes to amplify the sound. Pretty sophisticated stuff.
3. Underwater travel
Long before people were merrily singing “We all live in a yellow submarine”, this wondrous technology was making its way to a reality. In 1580 to be exact. When an innkeeper (yes, an innkeeper!) drew the first workable description, complete with explanation of how submerging or surfacing with a water craft works.
Then the timeline goes like this: Cornelius van Drebbel, a court inventor in England is confirmed by multiple witness accounts to have stayed submerged for three hours in 5m (15ft) water in 1620, but no schematics of the craft exist and finally in 1776, David Bushnell, an American invents the first well-functioning submarine. This time a military one actually used in combat against the British.
4. Contact lenses
They have their origin in one of Leonardo da Vinci’s ideas of 1508, who was convinced that the defects of the human eye could be corrected through modifications to the cornea, his idea being to use water as the medium of manipulating light’s passage into the desired way.
Then, the first contact lenses were produced by reportedly either Swiss physician Adolf E. Fick and Edouard Kalt of Paris (optician) in 1888 OR one year earlier by the German F.A. Muller, a glassblower. These lenses were made, unsurprisingly, entirely of glass and covered the whole exposed part of the eye.
From here it took until 1936 for William Feinbloom to invent scleral lenses from a combination of glass and plastic. And finally a modern form of contact lenses as we know them today were invented by the californian Kevin Tuohy in 1948.
5. Brain surgery
The removal of bone from the skull, a technique known as trepanation, is confirmed to have been used at least 5000 years ago. If not 7000 years ago based on a new finding in France (Ensisheim). For real.
In the village of Ensisheim, in 1997, in a grave, a man was found with two holes in his head, without signs of cracks, which means that they were surgically drilled intentionally and with expertise. Backing up this claim is the fact that the man lived to the age of 50, with both holes exhibiting a complete heal, so they were clearly not the cause of death.
The smaller one was 3cm (1 in) and a new layer of bone had grown over its entirety. The larger one was an impressive 6cm or 3 inches (even by today’s standards) and it too was covered by a new layer of bone, albeit partially.