Special Report

Alarm Clocks, Mints and Other Ancient Inventions We Still Use Today

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16. Pancakes

There is some evidence that pancakes date back to the Stone Age. Starch grains analyses on 30,000-year-old tools suggest back then people were making flour out of cattails and ferns and the flour, experts thinks, was probably mixed with water and baked on a hot, greased rock. Kind of like how pancakes are made now, right? In a more famous theory, pancakes are at least 5 millennia old. Ground einkorn wheat was found in the stomach of Otzi the Iceman, whose human remains are 5,300 years old.

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17. The battery

It looks like Count Alassandro Volta did not invent the battery in the 1800s, but rather just improved it. The Baghdad Battery, also known as the Parthian Battery, is said to be the oldest in the world; it is about 2,000 years old. The clay and asphalt jar with an iron rod, surrounded by a copper cylinder, produces about 1.1 volts when it’s filled with vinegar.

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18. Hair braiding

Nowadays there seems to be an infinite number of hair braiding styles, but it all began some 5,000 years ago in African cultures. Around 3500 B.C., the style, the most common of which was cornrows, was a sign of social status, ethnicity, and religion. Around 3100 B.C. braids became widespread among Egyptians who preferred Afro Box Braids.

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19. Indoor plumbing

Remains of toilets and sewers dating back to 2800 B.C. have been found in modern-day Pakistan. The bathrooms at the time drained through pipes in the walls to a municipal drainage system. Primitive toilets, which date back 5,000 years, used a constant stream of water to carry away waste. The first modern flushable toilet is said to have been invented by Sir John Harrington, hence its nickname “the John,” in 1596.

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20. Julian calendar

The Roman calendar was based on the phases of the Moon and was simply too complicated to follow. The Julian calendar, suggested by Julius Caesar, replaced it in 45 B.C. The year was divided into 12 months, which each have 30 or 31 days. Also called the Old Style calendar, the Julian calendar is still used by some Eastern Orthodox Churches to determine liturgical dates and holidays such as Easter.

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