There are certain aspects of our modern everyday lives which we may wholeheartedly believe to be recently conceived. Some of these, such as iPhones and TV sets, truly are modern inventions while others seem to go back centuries. Below we have a list of ten seemingly ‘modern’ things that are actually far older than you could have ever imagined.
10. Nose Jobs Were First Performed In Ancient India
Although nose jobs (and plastic surgery in general) may seem like a fairly new procedure, they have actually been around for over two millennia.
According to Elizabeth Harken, the author of ‘Venus Envy: A History of Plastic Surgery’, the first recorded rhinoplasty procedure was performed in ancient India in the 6th century B.C, where a flap of skin from a patient’s cheek was used for re-shaping the new nose.
In the West, nasal surgery became popular in the late 16th century, after the European syphilis epidemic left victims with holes for their noses due to soft-tissue decay. Different methods were used to recreate noses, the most popular one involving taking skin from the patient’s arm and grafting it onto their face in an effort to recreate the nose.
In the late 19th century, plastic surgery became popular in North America amongst those who wished to replace their socially undesirable features, such as large noses or undistinguished jaw lines.
9. Synchronised Swimming Was Popular In Ancient Rome
The ancient predecessor to modern synchronised swimming is said to have been the aquatic performances of Ancient Rome. The first-century A.D. Roman poet Martial wrote about these early water spectacles in the Colosseum in a series of epigrams.
According to Martial, the amphitheater would be flooded and a group of women would play the role of Nereids, or water nymphs, in an aquatic performance. The women dove, swam, and created elaborate formations and nautical shapes in the water, such as the outline or form of a ship with billowing sails.
Since the women were portraying water nymphs, it is very likely they performed naked. And since displaying one’s nude body in public was regarded as a shameful act, it is believed that the women who performed at these shows were of low status, probably slaves.
“Ornamental” swimming was also popular in the 1800s and involved the performance of aquatic stunts such as somersaults, treading water and swimming with arms and legs bound. The swimmers waltzed and swam in glass tanks at music halls and aquariums and sometimes even opened their acts with underwater tricks such as smoking while submerged.
8. Running Shoes Used To Look Like Formal Men’s Shoes
The oldest running shoes date back to the early 1860s although they barely resemble today’s sneakers at all. First created by Thomas Dutton and Thorowgood, they look more suitable for a formal occasion, with smooth black leather and a stacked heel.
On further inspection, however, you might notice odd spikes emerging from the soles, and a band of leather across the instep for added support, which indicate the shoes real purpose.
In the early 1800s, a new fashion for “pedestrianism, or competitive walking arose which also led to increased popularity in competitive running and subsequently, running shoes.
7. Macaroni And Cheese Goes Back To The 14th Century
Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food but few know that it dates back to the 14th century. Recipes for early versions have been found in various cookbooks, including the Italian medieval cookbook “Liber de Coquina” (Book of Cooking) and the English “Forme of Cury”. The latter describes a dish called “makerouns” made from fresh pasta, melted butter and cheese.
The recipe was modernised by Elizabeth Raffald’s in her 1769 book “The Experienced English Housekeeper”. Raffald included instructions for béchamel sauce and advised readers to top the dish with parmesan and breadcrumbs.
It is not exactly clear as to when macaroni and cheese was introduced in America. Some believe colonial settlers brought over the dish from England while others claim that Thomas Jefferson tried the dish in Europe and was so smitten that he attempted to design a macaroni-making machine. When his attempt failed, he settled for importing parmesan and macaroni noodles from abroad.
6. Merry Go Rounds Were First Invented For Training Knights
During the Crusades in the 1100s, European soldiers observed Turkish and Arabian horsemen compete in a curious game which involved riding a horse while holding a lance in order to spear a ring that hung from a tree limb.
The participants took the game so seriously that European soldiers began referring to it as a “little war”, which when translated to Italian became “garosello” or “carosella”. Upon their return to Europe the crusaders brought the game back with them. The game quickly gained popularity in France and was referred to as the “carousel”.
During the middle ages, prototypes of merry-go-rounds were used as a training machine for knights in battle. Knights would sit on wooden planks that were arranged in a circle, suspended from a wooden centerpost. As the knights were spun around they tried to thrust their lances through a small stationary ring that represented the head of their opponent in a jousting match.
In the 1600s a device for training for the carousel was invented by a group of Frenchmen. The device consisted of a carved horse suspended by chains from a central pole. Young noblemen training to compete in the carousel would ride these horses without risking injuring the horses used in the actual event.
It was only in the 1700s that smaller versions of the carousel were created for entertainment.
5. Medical Consent Forms Date Back To The 16th Century Ottoman Empire
The oldest-known example of a written medical consent form dates back to the 16th century Ottoman Empire. The form was found in Qadi registers. Qadis, who were Muslim judges who interpreted and administered Ottoman Sharia Law, kept records that documented their decisions and work.
In the case of the recently discovered medical form, a patient, in the presence of witnesses, gave surgeons a written permission to remove a stone in his bladder. He also promised not to sue if anything went wrong during the surgery.
The discovery shows that the concept of informed medical consent has been practiced long before it was introduced and adopted in the West.
4. D20 Were Used During the Ptolemaic Period
The d20 has been popularized by the Dungeons & Dragons role playing game, but it turns out that twenty-sided dies have been around for quite some time. In fact, the oldest twenty –sided die dates back to the Ptolemaic Period, which would put it sometime between 305 BC and 30 BC.
Often, the face of each die was inscribed with Greek or Latin numbers although one unusual example uses Greek words which resemble those associated with throws of knuckle bones. Thus, some believe that the dies were used in games.
Others argue that these dies relate to divination. An ancient Greek oracle book refers to throwing lots to obtain a number that would lead to prepared oracle questions and answers. However, since little information about these dies has been preserved, theories are built on clues that are provided by variant examples.
3. Take-out Restaurants Were A Thing In Ancient Rome
Fast-food restaurants have been around for centuries and date back to at least ancient Roman times. Back then, they were called “thermopolia” and were a standard feature of life around the Roman Empire.
In Pompeii alone there were over one hundred and twenty operating thermopolia. They were similar to our own fast-food joints today with only one exception – the food served at these ancient fast food joints was actually good for you.
In fact, thermopolia were so popular that most houses in Pompeii did not even have a kitchen. A standard thermopolium consisted of a room with a stone countertop with built in recesses for food containers and rooms at the back where customers could eat.
Thermopolia were mostly used by those who were less well off and thus they were often scorned and looked down on by the richer classes.
2. Fingerprints Were Used As A Method Of Identification In Ancient Babylon
Using fingerprints for identification purposes is an ancient practice that dates back millennia. In 1900 BC fingerprints were used in Babylon as a method of protection from forgery and falsification. Parties to a legal contract would impress their fingerprints into the clay tablet on which the contract had been written. During the reign of the Babylonian king Hammurabi, law officials fingerprinted people who had been arrested.
By 246 BC, Chinese officials impressed their fingerprints in clay seals used to seal documents. With the arrival of silk and paper in China, parties to a legal document would impress their handprints on the document. In 300 AD China, handprints were used as evidence in trials for theft and in 650 AD the Chinese historian Kia Kung-Yen commented that fingerprints could be used as a means of authentication.
1. Ancient Egyptians May Have Used Condoms
The oldest condom to still exist was found in the city of Lund in Sweden and is believed to have been made and used around 1640 AD. It was made from a pig’s intestine and came with an owner’s manual written in Latin. The manual recommended washing the condom in warm milk to prevent disease.
Some claim there is evidence in cave writings that ancient Egyptians used condoms as far back as 1,000 BC. Similarly, cave paintings that are about 2,000 years old at Combarelles in France are also believed to show condom use. Finally, Roman soldiers are said to have used condoms made from dried sheep intestines.
While most condoms were made from animal intestines, some were also made from linen. Casanova, for example, was said to have used linen condoms regularly, although he referred to them as “Redingtone Anglaise” or “English Riding Coat”.