50 Surprising Historical Facts From BCE (Before Common Era or Before Christ)

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26Oldest Timber Constructions

The oldest known timber constructions in the world are 4 wooden water wells in the Greater Leipzig region in Germany. They were built during the early Neolithic period between 5469 and 5098 BCE.


27. Cheesemaking is ancient and predates recorded history. The earliest evidence of cheese making is in 5500 BCE, in Kujawy, Poland, where fat molecules were found on ancient strainers.


28. The first named author in history was a woman named Enheduanna from the Sumerian city-state of Ur (modern Iraq) in the 23rd century BCE. As a high priestess, she wrote hymns and poems that were in circulation for hundreds of years after her death.


29. France, Britain, and Ireland are home to a combined 15 of the 20 oldest known buildings in the world. The oldest, Barnenez in France, dates back to 4800 BCE. That’s over 2,000 years older than the oldest pyramid in Egypt.


30. The first documented cases of cancer were found on papyrus manuscripts in Egypt dating back to 3000 BCE. In these manuscripts, 8 cases of breast tumors are mentioned that were removed by cauterization with a tool called the fire drill. The writing says about the disease, “There is no treatment.”


31Flush Toilets

The earliest flush toilets were used by the people of the Indus Valley Civilization (existing from approx. 3300 BCE - 1700 BCE). Almost every home in the ancient cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa had a flush toilet connected to a common sewage system.


32. The last Wooly Mammoth died in 1650 BCE on Wrangel Island in Russia. Around that time, Egypt’s Middle Kingdom was coming to an end and Greeks (the precursors to the more well-known Greek Empire) had just started to live in Mycenae.


33. The first recorded gay couple in history were two Ancient Egyptian manicurists serving at the Pharaoh’s royal court in 2400 BCE.


34. Alphabetical order was introduced in the 3rd century BCE by Zenodotus, who also happened to be the first librarian at the Great Library of Alexandria.


35. About 40 papyri from 150-99 BCE found in Egypt form an archive recording 3 generations of a common soldier’s family. Personal letters, divorce papers, contracts, and wills tell of his emigration from Crete, his marriages, career, and death, as well as the life of his daughter, her 4 siblings, and her kids.


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36Archaeology

Xenophanes (570 BCE to 475 BCE) was the first person known to have used fossils as evidence for a theory of the history of the Earth. Having discovered fossils of marine life on a mountain he posited that they were once underwater.


37. The Antikythera Mechanism is the world’s first (analog) computer and it was used to calculate the positions of stars and planets accurate to 1 degree in 500 years and was made in 100 BCE, about 1500 years before Keppler was even born.


38. ‘Carmen 16’ is a poem which was written by Gaius Valerius Catullus (84 BCE to 54 BCE) is considered to be so sexually explicit that it wasn’t published in English until the late 20th century. It is considered one of the filthiest expressions ever written in Latin, or any language, for that matter.


39. One of the earliest known serial killers was Liu Pengli, a Chinese prince from mid-100 BCE. He would go on expeditions with others, murdering people for sheer sport. He had over 100 confirmed victims. When he was uncovered, his uncle the emperor banished him instead of executing him.


40. The city of Jericho in Israel has been continuously inhabited since 9400 BCE and it is thought to be one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in the world.


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41Beekeeping

The practice of beekeeping has been going on for thousands of years and it was widespread in the Levant regions by 1500 BCE. The practice was so important for the local economies that in the Hittite laws the penalties for stealing a swarm of bees or empty hive was about the same as the fine for stealing a sheep.


42. The earliest historical record of pillow use is from about 7000 BCE in the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia.


43. In 1925, archaeologist Leonard Woolley discovered the world’s first museum in the palace of Princess Ennigaldi. It was created in 530 BCE with the newest artifact dating nearly 700 years older than the pavement it rested upon, and most of the items were carefully stored and labeled.


44. Electrum is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. It was used as early as the 3000 BCE in Egypt, as an exterior coating to the pyramidions atop pyramids and obelisks. The first metal coins ever made were of electrum and for a few decades, the Nobel Prize medals were too.


45. The first vending machine was invented in Ancient Egypt in 215 BCE and sold holy water. It worked by the use of levers meaning a coin would open a tap, letting water out.


46Largest Ship

In the 300 BCE a ship was built by the Egyptian Pharaoh that could carry up to 7400 men. It is considered by one to be the largest human powered vessel ever built.


47. Asphalt is not a modern material. Regular production of asphalt is known from the 3rd millennium BCE. The Babylonians even used it to fasten carved eyes to statues.


48. Sexagesimal (base 60) is a numeral system with sixty as its base. It originated with the ancient Sumerians in the 3rd millennium BCE and was passed down to the ancient Babylonians. It is still used in a modified form for measuring time, angles, and geographic coordinates.


49. The game of Rock Paper Scissors has Asian origin and dates back to 207 BCE where it was originally called ‘hand command.’


50. “Shulba Sutra” is an ancient text that originated around 800 BCE in ancient India. This text gives a description of how to create Fire Ritual Altars using Pythagorean triples, Square roots, and Geometrical Shapes.

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