10 Ancient Techniques that Still Work Today

by Shweta Anand2 years ago

6 In the 6th century BCE, ancient Indian physicians were already carrying out surgical reconstruction techniques that were similar to modern-day plastic surgery. In this method, they would use skin from other parts of the face, such as the cheeks, to reconstruct the nose. The Indian text, Sushruta Samhita, written by the physician Sushruta describes such procedures.
Sushruta Samhita
Shushrut Statue In Patanjali Yogpeeth, Haridwar, Sushruta Samhita. Image credits: Alokprasad via Wikimedia.org, amazon.in

The first-ever descriptions of reconstruction surgeries originated in ancient India. At the time, it was common practice in the country to cut off an individual’s nose as punishment for illegal or adulterous acts. As a result, walking around with a severed nose often contributed to public shame. It is believed that ancient Indian physicians developed the practice of rhinoplasty to provide relief to those afflicted this way.

By the 6th century BCE, Indian physicians were carrying out surgical procedures that were similar to plastic surgery techniques used today. The Indian physician Sushruta even describes this procedure in detail in his text, Sushruta Samhita. In his technique, skin from the forehead or the cheeks would be raised along with the underlying fat and used to reconstruct the nose.

However, this technique did not become popular in Europe until the 16th century when syphilis began to infect people and affect soft tissue organs like the nose. (1, 2)


7 Native American farmers used a unique form of crop cultivation with corn, beans, and squash that had a high yield and little environmental impact. These plants, known as the “Three Sisters,” were planted in a symbiotic fashion to provide a sustainable food source. This technique was in use for at least 300 years before the arrival of European settlers. 

Three Sisters
Corn, beans, and squash (Three Sisters). Image credit: Shutterstock

For at least 300 years before the arrival of European settlers, Native American farmers had been using a unique crop cultivation technique. In this method, they would plant three different crops simultaneously – beans, squash, and corn – that came to be known as the “Three Sisters.” When grown together, these plants produced a high-yielding and sustainable food source that was also rich in nutrients. 

Typically, the beans were planted at the base of the corn stalks so that the corn could provide support to the climbing bean plants as they reached for sunlight. Similarly, the broad and spiny leaves of the squash plants protected the beans from predators. In turn, the beans pumped nitrogen back into the soil, fertilizing both the corn and squash plants.

Even today, the Three Sisters are included in an array of traditional Native American dishes such as the Oneida Nation’s burnt corn soup. (1, 2)


8 “Kangina” is an ancient food preservation method still used today in Afghanistan to keep fruits fresh. This method uses mud containers that can preserve fruits like grapes for months. These containers keep out air and moisture from the fruits and keep them fresh for long periods, much like a ziplock bag. 

Sabsina shows where the family stores the kangina: in a dry, cold space, away from direct sunlight. Image credit: thefrontierpost.com

“Kangina” is an ancient food preservation method that has been around in Afghanistan’s rural north for ages. Even before the advent of modern refrigeration technology, this technique was used to preserve fruits such as grapes for up to six months. 

In this technique, a bowl is fashioned out of clay-rich mud and laid out to dry under the sun for about five hours. Then, the grapes are placed inside the bowl and sealed away with more mud before being stored in a cool and dry place. Doing so is said to keep moisture and air away from the grapes, allowing them to stay fresh for months at a time. 

However, this method is more suitable for some types of grapes than others, with the Taifi grape being the most common type to undergo this process. Any grape that is not stored this way is either immediately consumed or dried to make raisins. (Source)


9 A 3,500-year-old ancient Egyptian document once revealed a pregnancy testing technique using bags of wheat and barley. The document suggests that a woman would need to urinate into each bag and if they began sprouting, she was likely to be pregnant. A 1963 study found that this method was accurate 70% of the time. 

Egyptian document
Image is used for representational purposes only. Image credit: Shutterstock

An ancient Egyptian document once revealed an elaborate pregnancy testing and sex determination technique that used bags of wheat and barley. This document was written sometime between 1500 and 1300 BCE, making it about 3,500 years old.

According to this text, women were required to urinate into bags of wheat and barley and wait to see if they would sprout. If they did, it meant that the woman was pregnant. This test could also determine the sex of the baby, claiming that if the barley sprouted first, it would be a boy and if the wheat sprouted first, it would be a girl.

In 1963, a test was conducted to study the efficacy of this method. It found that in 70% of the cases studied, bags of wheat and barley that pregnant women had urinated into, began sprouting. However, it also revealed that the sex determination test used by the ancient Egyptians was not very accurate. (1, 2)


10 Lost-wax casting is an ancient manufacturing technique that is still used today. In this method, a metal mold is built around the wax version of an object, after which the wax is melted to produce complex and structurally-sound sculptures. The first recorded use of this technique is from 6,000 years ago, found in a Neolithic village in modern-day Pakistan. 

In the 1980s, archeologists working at the site of a Neolithic settlement in modern-day Pakistan discovered a 6,000-year-old artifact. This object looked like a six-spoked wheel and was evidently corroded by the elements. However, this ordinary object soon proved to be extremely valuable because it was the oldest known example of a lost-wax-casting technique that is still used today. 

Most metal casting methods typically involve the production of a cast into which the molten metal is poured. However, in lost-wax casting, the desired object is first carved out of wax. Then, a mold would be built around the wax, rather than within it, allowing the wax to be melted in the final stages of the process. This then enables a metal worker to produce things that are far more structurally complex and stable than what is produced through other techniques. 

Today, a similar technique called “investment casting” is used by NASA to manufacture equipment for their projects. (1, 2)

Also Read:
10 Ancient Artifacts That Are Too Strange to Be True

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