From fire travelling over water to deadly heat rays, here are 10 Advanced Ancient Technologies we Still Can’t Replicate Today….. 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! 7. Greek Fire Developed in the year 672, Greek fire was used during Naval battles by the Byzantine empire to set fire to enemy ships. The liquid burned at extremely high temperatures, and by all accounts would even continue to burn when it fell onto the water.
Pretty terrifying and dangerous stuff!! It was used all the way through to the 12th century, although the formula is thought to have changed over this time, until it was replaced by other battlefield weaponry. There are a number of descriptions of it being used, but it was a closely guarded secret by the empire because of its ability to turn the tide of battle. This meant that only a select few knew how to make it, and their secrets went with them to the grave. It’s thought that the substance contained quicklime, which would allow it to burn on water, along with a combination of ingredients including saltpeter, which was an early form of gunpowder. It might also have contained petroleum to allow it to continue to burn, but still to this day a similar substance hasn’t been recreated. Of course it wouldn’t have the same militaristic advantages today as it did back then, so research isn’t such a priority. However, not only is it impressive, but it has influenced shows like Game of Thrones that used a similar weapon called WildFire.
6. Rocks of Sacsayhuamán If you ever visit Peru, then the city of Cusco is worth exploring because of its unique architecture. In particular, around the northern part of the city, is the walled complex of Sacsayhuamán, (or Sexy Woman) and it has historians and archaeologists pretty confused. The large dry stone walls are made from boulders that have been perfectly cut to fit together without the use of any mortar, with some of those used to create the terraces weighing up to 200 tons. They are some of the largest that have been found in ancient buildings of America, and the precision by which they were put together, with their rounded edges, is incredible. They are so tightly arranged that you can’t even fit a needle between the stones. There are a number of theories of how it was possible to do this. Perhaps the stones were softened with an unknown substance from a plant or even melted with sun mirrors to give the smooth edges.
Or you can check out my “ancient artifacts people believe were made by aliens” video for other theories! We’ll perhaps never know, because the records of the civilization who created the walls have long been lost, and it’s certainly a technique that would be difficult to replicate to this day. 5. Nepenthes First mentioned in Homer’s “Odyssey”, a Nepenthes is the name given to a potion that has the ability to help you forget bad memories. The word means “anti-sorrow drug”, and has been mentioned in countless literary works since. From all accounts it was the first instance of the use of an antidepressant, but there is much debate as to what substance it actually was.
Some think it might have been a strong version of Opium which, if prepared in the correct way, would definitely have the ability to make you forget your thoughts for a while. Nonetheless, no potion that’s known today has a long term ability to let you forget your bad memories, but it would surely be a useful option if the recipe was ever to be discovered. 4. Archimedes’ Heat Ray According to records and images from the time, in 212 BC during the siege of Syracuse, Archimedes built a burning glass contraption that was able to set fire to numerous Roman ships from a great distance. It’s thought that he used a series of parabolic mirrors to focus the sun’s rays to achieve such an effect, and the idea has since become known as Archimedes’ Heat Ray. Since then, though, no one has been able to use sunlight to be able to do this! Could it have been something else? The problem is, despite our current knowledge of how mirrors work, it has proven virtually impossible to recreate the effects of what his weapon did during that battle.
Even the TV show Mythbusters tried to recreate it and determined that it wasn’t possible. However, in 2005, a team at MIT seemed to get close to a design that would have the desired effect 100 feet away. Some solar panel farms focus intense beams of light with a series of mirrors and, while it definitely wouldn’t be a good idea for a human to touch one of these beams, they still aren’t dangerous enough to set fire to a fleet of ships. So the question remains, how did Archimedes do it?? 3. Flexible Glass Flexible Glass, or ‘Vitrum Flexile’, is an invention that was supposedly developed during the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius Caesar.
We can thank the Romans again for their innovations! It looked just like normal glass but with one crucial difference- it wouldn’t break. So the story goes, the inventor who made it took a glass bowl to the emperor. Caesar dropped it, then tried to break it, but all he could manage was a dent. The craftsman was even able to fix this dent with a hammer. Rather than being impressed, Caesar became worried about the impact that the invention could have on gold and silver prices. He had him confirm that he was the only one who knew how to make it, and then had him beheaded. The only information of the incident comes from accounts by Petronius and Pliny the Elder, so who knows what actually happened.
Of course there’s no record of how it was made, and nothing like it has ever been made since. In recent years, though, with the constant developments in smartphone technology, manufacturers seem to be getting close to developing similar substances. In 2016, a company called Schott, who make glass for a huge number of devices already, showcased a resilient and bendy glass that can be thinner than a human hair. However, it’s not quite to the level of Vitrum Flexile, because while you can continuously bend it- the moment you try and twist the glass it will shatter. So close!! 2. The Iron Pillar in Delhi The Iron Pillar of Delhi, India stands 23 feet (7 m) tall, and a few feet are buried into the ground.
It is thought to have been built by King Chandragupta in the 3rd to 4th centuries. Inscriptions on the pillar date it to that time, but it’s actually believed to have been built somewhere else and moved to its current location a few hundred years after its construction. What initially may seem like an ancient monument becomes all the more mysterious because, despite being more than 1,000 years old, the iron pillar shows no signs of rust whatsoever. This is something modern technology doesn’t allow us to do, and scientists have tried for ages to try and recreate the effects. The problem is, it’s not clear how the pillar has become immune to corrosion. Several theories have been put forward, which fall into two categories- either a complex blend of materials that have changed the nature of the iron, or environmental factors that prevent rust from occurring. The leading theory, the mixed potential theory, suggests that the processing, structure, and properties of the iron have worked in unison to actually create a protective layer of rust on the pillar so no further corrosion can occur.
Furthermore this phenomenon is not only seen in this pillar. Other sites in India have similar artefacts like cannons, and other pillars at Dhar, Mandu, and Mount Abu. The ancient Indian iron workers were very skilled at forging the material, and the techniques that have been lost over time are far beyond current metallurgical capabilities. 1. Stradivarius Violins Born in 1644, Antonio Stradivari is renowned for being the greatest craftsman of violins that has ever lived. He opened a workshop in Cremona, Italy, and up until his death in 1737 made more than 1,000 violins, violas and violoncellos. It’s thought that up to 650 of the instruments still exist, and they are highly sought after. A well preserved violin sold at auction for over 14 million dollars. This demand is because his pieces produce a bright and warm sound unmatched by any others- despite people’s best efforts to replicate it. It’s not entirely clear how Stradivari managed to do this, but there are a number of theories. Scientists, in 2003, suggested that it could have been related to solar activity during the 17th century that affected the way the trees grew to give the wood improved acoustic qualities.
How’s that for a theory! Others in 2006 suggested it was because of treatments he added to kill woodworm or fungi. Of course, there’s a lot to the superior design and shape of the instruments too, but with his designs lost to history, it seems that no one will ever be able to make a violin as good again. Thanks for watching! Be sure to subscribe before you leave and see you next time! .