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Major Inventions Timeline - Before the Common Era

Updated on December 4, 2011
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Many inventions, including some listed below, have been crucial in the further technological developments of man. Without the invention of the wheel, the potter's wheel would not have been developed. The development of spears and spear tips allowed for the advancement of human population which in itself led to the further advancement of human kind. Many 'modern inventions' are really reinventions, using modern materials, of ideas developed in ancient times. Deep well drilling and the electric battery are two examples of technologies developed well before the modern era.

Ancient Inventions

Image of a hand-turned potter's wheel, from Egypt circa 1800 B.C
Image of a hand-turned potter's wheel, from Egypt circa 1800 B.C | Source
Water Clock: Reconstruction of a clay original of the late 5th cent. B.C. Ancient Agora Museum in Athens
Water Clock: Reconstruction of a clay original of the late 5th cent. B.C. Ancient Agora Museum in Athens | Source
Antikythera mechanism fragment. The mechanism consists of a complex system of 32 wheels and plates with inscriptions relating to the signs of the zodiac and the months.  It is thought that this was a kind of astrolabe used for marine navigation.
Antikythera mechanism fragment. The mechanism consists of a complex system of 32 wheels and plates with inscriptions relating to the signs of the zodiac and the months. It is thought that this was a kind of astrolabe used for marine navigation. | Source
girl skull, trepanated with a silex; neolithic (3500 BC) ; patient survived. Natural History Museum, Lausanne
girl skull, trepanated with a silex; neolithic (3500 BC) ; patient survived. Natural History Museum, Lausanne | Source
Bronze spear heads, Dong Son culture, 500 BCE-0, Vietnam
Bronze spear heads, Dong Son culture, 500 BCE-0, Vietnam | Source

Inventions Dating before the Common Era

1) 1.8 million years ago: cooking

2) 500 thousand years ago (ka): shelter construction;

3) 400 ka: wooden spears;

pigments invented in Zambia;

4) 280 ka: Stone blades;

5) 200 ka: Glue invented in Italy;

6) 60 ka: Boats;

Bow;

7) 50 ka: Musical instruments including flutes made from Mammoth tusk

8) 40 ka: Burial

9) 36 ka: Cloth woven from flax fibre

10) 28 ka: Twisted rope

11) 21 ka: Moon notch calendar: a notch carved into bone for the passing of each full moon

12) 16 ka: Pottery;

Water clocks in Bablyon and Egypt

13) 9 ka : Warp-weighted loom: the basic design is still in use today in Norway to spin cloth;

Dentristry developed by the Indus Valley Civilization;

Woven cloth;

14) 8 ka: String skirt: same design still used in Balkans and is worn a fringed apron by women in Eastern Europe

15) 7 ka: Earth fired pottery

16) 6 ka: Eyeliner used for aesthetic and religious reasons in South Iran and Iraq;

wheel developed in ancient Sumer (Iraq);

oldest perfumes discovered in Pyrgos, Cyprus;

17) 5.7 ka: Plumbing appeared in urban settlements of Indus Valley Civilization;

18) 5.5 ka: Plywood developed in Egypt; 

19) 5.2 ka: Summerian Bull Lyre - based on the harp

20) 5 ka: Earth-fired pottery;

Finn's invent iceskates using animal bones;

solar calendar developed by the Egyptians;

the Nimrud lens is invented which was a piece of rock crystal probably used a magnifying glass or burning glass to start fires;

21) 4.4 ka: the first known calculator, the abacus, was invented in Babylonia;

the Potter's wheel developed in Egypt;

22) 4 ka: Olive Oil Soap developed in the Mediterranean;

Perfume formula documented by Tapputi, a chemist in Mesopotamia;

Trepanation (primitive brain surgery used to drill a hole in the skull to relieve parasites, pressure, headaches and evil spirits;

Plastic Surgery was developed in ancient India. As noses were amputated for various crimes, the surgery was used to rebuild the nose using part of the forehead a practice still used today.

23) 3.1 ka: toys discovered in Egypt;

24) 3 ka: Central Heating developed by the Romans. They conducted air heated by furnaces through empty spaces under floors and out of pipes in walls. This system, known as a hypocaust, was used in public baths and in private houses.

25) 2600 years ago (ya): Chinese develop row planting;

26) 2500 ya: Romans develop arches;

27) 2600 ya: Cataract surgery was invented in India;

28) 2400 ya: Chinese develop a lodestone compass used on land as a divination tool and direction finder;

Dionysisus the Elder of Syracuse (Greece) invented the catapult;

the crossbow is developed by the Chinese;

29) 2300 ya: Pingala invents the binary number system

30) 2250 ya: the Bagdad Battery was a clay jar with a stopper made of asphalt; sticking through the asphalt was an iron rod surrounded by a copper cylinder; filled with vinegar or another electrolytic solution it produced about 1.1 volt of electricity; it was probably used ot electroplate items such as putting a layer of one metal (gold) onto the surface of another (silver); electroplating is still practiced in Iraq today.

31) 2202 ya: Chinese developed: the seed drill;

the Iron Plow;

the Ship's Rudder;

Deep-well drilling for natural gas - boreholes were created, some of which reached depths of 4800 feet; cast iron drills were sued to reach natural gas which was burned as a fuel.

32) 2087 ya: in Rhodes, the Antikythera Mechanism was built to track the movement of the stars;

33) 2050 ya: Blown glass developed by the Egyptians;

34) 2045 ya: the Julian Calendar was invented and named after Julius Caesar;

35) 2000 ya: Number System and Counting developed in India;





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    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      What fun! And educational. I love time-lines and think they are very useful. For about twenty years there they disappeared from history textbooks, but I am happy to say they have been reinstated. :)

      Water clocks, trepanation, and the iron plow...all in one Hub. Just Great! :)

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