Special Report

50 of the Oldest Things on Earth

Source: Tilemahos Efthimiadis / Wikimedia Commons

16. Computer
> Oldest: Antikythera Mechanism
> Approximate Date: 205 B.C.
> Location: Greece

Though it may not be considered a computer by today’s standards, the Antikythera mechanism was remarkably advanced for its time. Discovered in the wreckage of an ancient ship, the machine baffled scientists for decades before they realized it predicted the movements of the planets and the sun. The device could even tell when eclipses would occur. It was reportedly so advanced that it took over 1,000 years for anything else as advanced to be invented.

Source: Kevan / Flickr

17. Map
> Oldest: Babylonian Map of the World
> Approximate Date: 700-500 B.C.
> Location: Babil Governorate, Iraq

The oldest known map depicts the Mesopotamian world and is inscribed on a tablet, which makes it difficult to fold and put in your pocket. Babylon is carved in the center of the map. Experts also identified places from antiquity such as Assyria. The lands on the map are circled by a body of water called the “Salt-Sea.” A cuneiform text accompanies the map and describes the region with accounts of heroes as well as mythical beasts. The map was discovered in the late 1800s in Sippar, Iraq, and is housed in the British Museum

Source: Wikimedia Commons

18. Movable Painting
> Oldest: Pitsa panels
> Approximate Date: 600 B.C.
> Location: Greece

The Pitsa painted panels in Greece are the oldest human paintings not found in caves. The oldest of these panels, found near the Corinthia region, date back to 600 B.C. Most of the examples of this kind of art that have survived are from Egypt and have been preserved by the dry climate.

Source: Courtesy of Sofia / National History Museum

19. Tablet
> Oldest: The Etruscan Gold Book
> Approximate Date: 660-600 B.C.
> Location: Strouma River, Bulgaria

The Etruscan Gold Book, believed to be the oldest multi-page book in the world, is made from six sheets of 24-carat gold and bound with rings. The plates are inscribed in Etruscan characters and show a horse, horseman, a mermaid, and soldiers. The item was discovered in 1943 in a tomb while workers were digging a canal near the Struma River in Bulgaria. The book can be found in Bulgaria’s National History Museum in the city of Sofia.

20. Currency
> Oldest: Lydian Stater
> Approximate Date: 750-560 B.C.
> Location:

It’s believed the ancient kingdom of Lydia (now known as Turkey) was the first to use coins as currency well over 2,500 years ago. The coins, known as staters, were made of a naturally occurring gold and silver alloy known as electrum, helping them stand the test of time. Lydia’s far reach helped spread the staters across Eurasia. In 2014, a diver in Bulgaria found one in the Black Sea.