Throughout the day, we use all sorts of incredible inventions that are brand spankin’ new and cutting-edge. We’re so preoccupied with the many state-of-the-art inventions around us, in fact, that we often forget about the simplistic genius of the everyday items in our life.
But, if we go far enough back, there was a time when even the humble sock may have seemed just as impressive as the latest Apple gadget. That’s exactly what makes these oldest surviving examples of everyday items so stunning.
These 16 items might not be fancy by today’s standards, but centuries ago, they most definitely were!
1. The oldest coin is 2,700 years old. It was discovered in the Hellenic city of Ephesus, now a part of modern-day Turkey. The coin has a lion’s head on one side, and it’s made of electrum—a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver.
Fleur De Coin
2. Did you know that the oldest written recipe is 5,000 years old? The recipe is for Sumerian beer, and dates all the way back to 3000 B.C. The beer it produces is a strong drink that would have pieces of bread floating in it.
3. The oldest pair of sunglasses were created by Inuits and discovered on Baffin Island, Canada. They were used to reduce the glare of the sun reflecting off snow. They were crafted from walrus ivory between 1200 and 1600 A.D.
4. The oldest sculpture of a human, titled Venus of Hohle, was found in Germany and made between 35,000 and 40,000 years ago. That’s at least 32,000 years before the pyramids in Egypt were constructed!
5. The oldest shoe was discovered in an Armenian cave and believed to be about 5,500 years old. It was made from a single cow hide, and only survived all those years because it was preserved in sheep dung.
6. The oldest musical instrument is about 40,000 years old. This early flute was made from vulture bone and found in southern Germany’s Hohle Fels Cave. Scientists believe that it represents a musical tradition when modern humans first populated Europe.
7. The oldest pair of pants was found in central China and is estimated to be around 3,300 years old. It was worn by nomadic horsemen and made from three pieces of wool. Without scissors, the creator of these pants used a loom for their final sizing process.
8. The oldest “flushable” toilets weren’t really flushable the way modern toilets are; rather, they had running water flowing below the seats, which carried waste to a nearby river. These toilets are located in the ancient Turkish city of Ephesus, and they date back 2,000 years.
Chronicles Of Lindsay
9. The oldest brassiere, used between 1390 and 1495, was discovered in an Austrian castle. Although earlier descriptions of “breast bags” exist, they have never been recovered. This one was made out of wool and lace, and it was probably sewn by the woman who wore it.
10. The oldest prosthetic is about 3,000 years old. It was used in Egypt and tests have proven that it was actually made for walking and not simply for aesthetic purposes. It was discovered on the body of an ancient Cairo noblewoman.
11. The oldest purse has mostly disintegrated with age, and all that’s left is the top flap, decorated with more than 100 dog teeth. It was found in a grave dated between 2500 and 2200 B.C. near Leipzig, Germany.
12. The oldest condom dates back to 15th century China and it was made out of pig intestines. It was reusable, and came with instructions that said it should be washed in warm milk to prevent diseases.
13. The oldest ball of chewing gum was found in Finland. It is at least 5,000 years old and was made from birch bark. The gum was likely used to treat mouth infections.
14. The oldest recorded melody was written down 3,400 years ago in Ugarit—now Northern Syria—and was intended to be played on a lyre. It was composed by the Hurrian people, and it is entitled “Hymn to Nikal.”
15. The oldest socks were made to fit into sandals. They were made of wool, and were created in Egypt between 300 and 499 A.D. But perhaps the coolest fact about them is that they were constructed from a single thread using a technique called nålbindning.
16. The oldest globe was found in Italy and etched very carefully from an ostrich egg. Before experts verified its authenticity, it had been sold to the current owner at a map fair in London in 2012.
Washington Map Society
Human history is no joke, huh? As incredible as today’s inventions are, they couldn’t have existed without the contributions of some of the oldest items in the world. Isn’t it amazing to think about how someone carved that human-figure sculpture 40,000 years ago?
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