Legacy of Ancient Civilizations: 50 Facts That Will Amaze You

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1 Lipstick Origins

Lipstick Origins

Lipstick was first invented in ancient Sumeria and the Indus Valley around 5,000 years ago. Although lipstick was originally used for a variety of purposes, such as protecting lips from the sun, the ancient Egyptians wore it primarily to show their social status, rather than their gender. In contrast, the Chinese used lipstick for lip protection.


2. Kushim, an accountant from Mesopotamia who lived around 3200 B.C., is the first person in history whose name we know. He signed his (or her) name at the bottom of a tablet that’s over 5,000 years old, which was excavated in Sumer. Kushim signed at the bottom of the tablet to note how much barley they had on-hand.


3. The first recorded chemist was a woman named Tapputi, a perfume-maker mentioned in a cuneiform tablet dated around 1200 BC in Babylonian Mesopotamia. She held a powerful role in the Mesopotamian government and religion as the overseer of the Mesopotamian Royal Palace.


4. The signet ring was used as long ago as 3500 B.C. Records show that the people of Mesopotamia used cylindrical seals as marks of authenticity.


5. The earliest flush toilets were used by the people of the Indus Valley Civilization, which existed from approximately 3300 BC to 1700 BC. Almost every home in the ancient cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa had a flush toilet connected to a common sewage system.


6 Temple of Aphrodie, Mesopotamia

Temple of Aphrodie, Mesopotamia

In ancient Mesopotamia, every woman was expected to go to the Temple of Ishtar (Aphrodite) at least once in her lifetime and have sex with a stranger. Men preferred to take on “the female role,” and there’s a whole list of the positions they enjoyed.


7. In ancient Mesopotamia, people regularly poured libations (liquids and grain) into the graves of their deceased relatives through a pipe, as it was believed that the dead did not have anything to eat or drink in the underworld besides dry dust.


8. Gobekli Tepe is a 12,000-year-old temple that predates humanity’s oldest known civilizations by 7,000 years and is full of strange animal carvings and towering stone pillars. Its purpose is still unknown to scholars.


9. Almost every home in the ancient city of Mohenjo-daro, which existed over 4,000 years ago, was equipped with a private bathing area with drains that emptied into a larger sewage drain.


10. The first wheels were not used for transportation. Evidence indicates that they were created to serve as potter’s wheels around 3500 B.C. in Mesopotamia, 300 years before someone figured out how to use them for chariots.


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11 Decoding Cuneiform

Decoding Cuneiform

The Behistun Inscription, similar to the Rosetta Stone, was a multilingual inscription that played a key role in decoding cuneiform. It tells the story of King Darius’ struggle for power and his conquests in Mesopotamia and Persia.


12. The ancient Indian epic Mahabharata is the longest poem ever written, with 200,000 verses and 1.8 million words. It was orally transmitted for centuries before being written down 2,500 years ago.


13. The “Indus script,” which comprised of symbols used by the Indus Valley Civilization, remains undeciphered to this day. It was in use from around 3500 to 1900 BCE.


14. The ancient Babylonians took their beer very seriously. If a brewer was found to be watering down his beer, he would either be drowned in the barrel or forced to drink it until death.


15. Indoor gardening has been practiced since ancient times, with early civilizations in Egypt, India, and China using potted plants in outdoor settings such as courtyards.


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16 Crocodile Dung Contraceptives

Crocodile Dung Contraceptives

Crocodile dung was used as one of the earliest contraceptives in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.


17. Ancient civilizations discovered iron tools before the Iron Age by finding meteorites made of iron and nickel that didn’t require smelting.


18. For centuries, Kurdish villagers knew an ancient rock relief as “Naram-Sin” without knowing its meaning. Later, archaeologists discovered it to be a depiction of Naram-Sin of Akkad, King of the Akkadian Empire, the world’s first empire, who ruled over 4,200 years ago.


19. Historically, pillows were made of stone and were not intended to be comfortable. The first pillows were used around 7,000 BC in Mesopotamia and were carved in the shape of a cradle.


20. The first proper banks likely originated in ancient Mesopotamia, where evidence suggests that temples and palaces throughout Babylonia and other cities provided lending activities. However, much of this was not in the form of financial lending but rather lending out seeds.


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21 5,000-year-old Beer Receipt

5,000-year-old Beer Receipt

This picture of an ancient tablet is actually a 5,000-year-old beer receipt. The “Alulu beer receipt” records a purchase of the “best” beer from a brewer circa 2050 B.C. in the Sumerian city of Umma, ancient Iraq.


22. Ancient Egyptians loved board games, and a well-known Bronze Age game, which was invented in Egypt 4,000 years ago, had one player choose Hound pegs, and the other Jackal pegs. Carved out of ivory, pieces of the game have been found in Mesopotamia, Israel, Syria, Iran, Azerbaijan, Levant, and the Mediterranean.


23. Dentistry is one of the oldest medical professions, dating back to 7000 B.C. from the Indus Valley Civilization.


24. Fart jokes have existed since at least 1900 B.C. The world’s oldest recorded joke is a Sumerian quip about a woman farting in her husband’s lap.


25. Approximately 5,000 years ago, workers in ancient Mesopotamia were paid in beer rations. A 3,900-year-old poem featuring Ninkasi, the goddess of brewing, also describes the oldest surviving beer recipe.


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