16 Oldest Surviving Examples Of Everyday Things
We enjoy quite a few unprecedented technologies today, but much more of the stuff that we use has been around for ages. Ancient humans may not have been able to text or upload selfies, but they enjoyed everyday objects like flushable toilets, chewing gum, and nice purses just like we do.
To remind ourselves how good we have it, we created an extended list of the oldest examples of everyday objects. Keep in mind that these are only the oldest surviving examples of these objects – many of these may have existed or are known to have existed even earlier.
Oldest Prosthetic (3,000 Years Old)
This 3,000-year-old prosthetic was used to help someone in Egypt walk again. Tests carried out with a replica proved that it was a working, practical prosthetic, not just a cosmetic one.
Though we cannot try on some of the oldest clothes to see how they looked on people for obvious reasons, it was a different case when people found an ancient written Chinese beer recipe that spiked an interest in recreating it. A group of students with Stanford archaeologist Li Liu in 2017 decided to brew a beer following a decoded recipe that is 5000 years old.
The result was described like this: “The ancient Chinese beer looked more like porridge and likely tasted sweeter and fruitier than the clear, bitter beers of today. The ingredients used for fermentation were not filtered out, and straws were commonly used for drinking,” said Liu.
Oldest Sunglasses (800 Years Old)
The world’s oldest sunglasses were discovered on Baffin Island in Canada. They were snow goggles, designed to reduce the sun’s glare reflecting from the snow.
Oldest Condom (370 Years Old)
This sheepskin condom was used in 1640 in Sweden. The reusable condom came with instructions (in Latin) to clean it with warm milk to prevent users from catching STDs.
I guess not all of the findings are ones we would like to try on at all. For example, the oldest surviving condom should probably give it a rest at the rightful age of 370 years old. Though condoms are known to have been used for thousands of years, this is the oldest surviving example that looks nothing like what we use today.
Oldest Globe (510 Years Old)
This old globe was painstakingly etched into the surface of an ostrich egg in Italy. Before its age and origin were verified, it had been sold to its current owner at a map fair in London in 2012.
Oldest Written Recipe (5,000 Years Old)
“A Sumerian Beer recipe dating back to 3000 BC. The result beer is very strong and would contain chunks of bread floating around in it.”
Another hot find was a medieval bra found in a castle. Though this is not gold or other treasures, for the archeologist Beatrix Nutz, it is as valuable, if not more. “It was found under the wooden floor between the first and second floors. Lengberg Castle was renovated in 2008 when they found a cavity filled with all sorts of rubbish. Among them were textiles that have been well preserved because it was very dry there. The most unusual pieces are a pair of panties and four brassieres made of white linen. These are the oldest bras found so far,” wrote Beatrix.
Oldest Brassiere (500 Years Old)
This bra was used between 1390 and 1485 in Austria. Earlier historical descriptions for “breast bags” do exist, but they had never been seen.
Oldest Socks (1,500 Years Old)
These Egyptian wool socks, designed to go with sandals, were knitted between 300 and 499 AD and found in the 19th century.
Though all of the findings are fascinating in their own way, the only thought that comes into my head is how grateful I am for living in this day and age. And knowing that all things tend to evolve, I wonder what aspects of our current reality, which seem entirely ordinary to us now, will give future generations the creeps.
Oldest Coin (2,700 Years Old)
The oldest known coin was found in the ancient Hellenic city of Efesos in Turkey. Its one (and only) decorated side features a lion’s head.
Oldest Instrument (40,000 Years Old)
This 40,000-year-old vulture-bone flute was found in southern Germany. Some scientists believe that music may have given our ancestors a strategic advantage over Neanderthals.
Oldest “Flush” Toilets (2,000 Years Old)
Ephesus, an ancient city in Turkey, had “flushing” toilets. Running water below the seats carried waste away into a nearby river.
The Oldest Recorded Melody (3,400 Years Old)
The oldest surviving written melody was found in Ugarit, which is now part of Northern Syria. The music was written for the lyre.
Oldest Sculpture Of A Human Form (35,000 – 40,000 Years Old)
At 35,000-40,000 years old, the Venus of Hohle is the oldest statue depicting a human figure. This mammoth-ivory figurine was found in Germany.
Oldest Pants (3,300 Years Old)
The oldest pair of pants in the world is 3,300 years old, and it was found in Western China.
Oldest Shoe (5,500 Years Old)
This 5,500-year-old cowhide moccasin was found in a cave in Armenia, preserved by grass and dry sheep dung. The left shoe was not found.
Oldest Chewing Gum (5,000 Years Old)
This chewing gum from Finland was chewed at least 5,000 years ago. The gum consists of birch bark, and was most likely used to heal mouth infections or to use as glue.