Courtesy of Cracked: 5 Advanced Ancient Technologies That Shouldn't Be Possible

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Antikythera mechanism
History has a habit of erasing itself and sometimes our ancestors really surprise us.

Often the nuances of what really occurred throughout history is lost, often by wilful erasure or through misfortune. Western history, on the whole, has a significant preference for keeping things narrative: we like the idea of marching nobly forwards and into increasing technological and cultural sophistication. We love to think that with every generation we improve ourselves and evolve and, as a result, often we view our ancestors as primitive and - horribly- even stupid.

But, of course, they weren't. And history in reality can come in all shapes, not just linear. Sometimes the technology that we view as 'modern' existed much, much earlier and, for some reason or another was lost of future generations.

For example, the popular conception of Japan has always been one of skilled samurais and, following the Tokugawa period in Japan, guns and gaijin influence were banned. Many people, looking to Japan, view gun culture as invasive and unnatural, dragged in by foreign influence. But, in reality, guns had been a part of Japanese weaponry since 1270ad, and it was due to political influences that this technology was wilfully rejected and, eventually, forgotten. Firearm technology stalled, missing out on hundreds of years of potential development.

Niokla Telsa is another example of lost potential. A legendary figure now among geek-culture, Telsa was said to have developed to have proposed a directed-energy weapon and even been able to remote-cast energy across large distances for free: something that could have catapulted the world into what we nowadays view as science fiction. But, due to pressure and theft by Thomas Edison, among other issues, so many of these ideas were never able to be developed.

Finally, even analogue computers are thought to be far, far older than we had ever anticipated. The discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism shook the world, as it showed that even the ancient Greeks had access to complex gear-work mechanisms that wouldn't resurface again for hundreds and hundreds of years and which had somehow been lost to their ancestors.
How might life had been if we had kept track of this technology and developed it?

The Antikythera Mechanism

This week I'd like to leave you in the hands of the brilliant, as they tell you about five fantastical ancient devices that prove that our ancestors were way more advanced than they often seem. 

The Lycurgus Cup, the Uunartoq disc, the salt drills of ancient China, the iron pillar of the Qutb Complex and Heron's programmable robots all show that our ancestors were very, very smart cookies indeed.

5 Advanced Ancient Technologies that Shouldn't Be Possible

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