Special Report

14 Important Inventions That Predate the Wheel

11. Bricks
> Earliest known examples: circa 7500 B.C.

We take bricks for granted, but without these humble inventions, we couldn’t build roads or our homes. The forebears of modern bricks were made of dried earth, either of earthen clay or mud left to dry in the sun. The oldest surviving bricks, dating back more than 9,000 years, were discovered in what are now Syria and Turkey.

12. Wine
> Earliest known examples: circa 7000/6000 B.C.

If you’re sipping a glass of wine now, you can thank ancient vintners in places as diverse as Georgia and China. At the Jiahu archeological site in China’s Henan Province, archaeologists discovered a ceramic jar about 9,000 years old that had been filled with rice, honey, and fruit to make a sweet alcoholic concoction. It is uncertain whether grapes were used, but the earliest undisputed evidence of grape wine, dating back about 8,000 years, is residue found in jars near the Georgian capital of Tbilisi

Source: Chris McGrath / Getty Images News via Getty Images

13. Textiles
> Earliest known examples: circa 6000 B.C.

Organic (and in modern times, also inorganic) fibers woven into textiles, we’re able to make clothing, coverings, baskets, and other useful items. But pinpointing the origins of woven cloth is difficult. Organic fibers degrade quickly and thus are hard to find in archeological digs. While some archaeologists have used evidence of objects used in the weaving process to posit much earlier dates, and while flax fibers of the kind used for textiles have been dated back to around 32,000 B.C., the earliest actual woven fabric discovered thus far are funeral wrappings found in Anatolia, in what is now Turkey, carbon-dated to 6000 B.C.

Source: 101561334@N08 / Flickr / Public Domain

14. Glass
> Earliest known examples: 4000 B.C.

Glass occurs organically in nature. Obsidian glass, in particular, forms when lava from a volcano eruption quickly cools and hardens into a rock. This naturally occurring glass was used during the Stone Age. But man-made glass was first observed 6,000 years ago in Syria, ancient Egypt, Lebanon, and Mesopotamia. Man-made glass was first made into jewelry (most often as beads), knives, and arrowheads. Glass was even used as currency in ancient times.

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