Get ready to set aside a lot of the things that you assume you know about history. Frankly, history gets weird (but in a totally cool way) the closer you look at it and start putting events and inventions in their proper context. For instance, the fact that the fax machine was invented way back in 1843 and could have technically been used by a real samurai completely blew my mind and reignited my passion for history.

Netizens have been sharing the intriguing things that are actually way older than we tend to think after redditor Kakou64 created a viral thread on r/AskReddit. You’ll find the best and most interesting answers below. It’s a real treat for history lovers and anyone with an interest in tech and science cuz it will definitely change your perception of time and how things are connected. Oh, and don’t forget to upvote your fave facts!

#1

Things-Older-Than-We-Think A bit different answer: but ancient people. A lot of times you hear people talk about the life expectancy of ancient people being around 35, so you picture a really young society when you think of the Romans, Egyptians, Mesopotamians, or even hunter-gatherers. This isn't really the case. The average is 35 because infant mortality and early childhood death was so common. If you just take the life expectancy of people who reach adulthood (16), then the life expectency is easily in the early 60s. There were plenty of 70 and even 80-year-olds 2000 years ago.

GateNerd , wikipedia Report

Tim Stoneman
Community Member
1 month ago

Important to remember, should be higher

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#2

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Ancient Egyptians who built the pyramids. The Ancient Egyptians were as old to the Ancient Romans as the Ancient Romans are to us.

trespuntoslikespider , wikipedia Report

Aaron W
Community Member
1 month ago

I wonder if the ancient Romans were as fascinated by their predecessors as we are?

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#3

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Sharks. Sharks as a family are older than trees

PmMeUrBoobsPorFavor , Marcelo Cidrack Report

Agnes Jekyll
Community Member
1 month ago

We need to protect them. They are becoming endangered; they are the oldest predators in the ocean, and if they die out, so will the oceans.

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Kakou64’s thread got a whopping 78.4k upvotes and it’s no wonder—their question inspired others to share things that are incredibly interesting to a lot of us. Fun and weird trivia? Check. Infotainment? Double-check. A reason to have another cup of coffee while reading some cool stuff to impress your colleagues by the water cooler via Zoom? Check, check, and check!

If we know the past well, it’s far easier to make predictions about the future and how technology will change and improve. However, making prognoses is never a guaranteed success. And anyone who tells you that they know something will happen for certain is selling you snake oil!

#4

Things-Older-Than-We-Think The idea that everything's getting worse and that the world's coming to an end soon. Sure, there's new vocabulary and new science involved, but people have been sounding that pessimistic alarm throughout history.

TimesThreeTheHighest Report

Tim Stoneman
Community Member
1 month ago

This REALLY needs to be higher

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#5

Things-Older-Than-We-Think I don't know if this counts but Dinosaurs lived on the earth a lot longer than most people think. When you think of dinosaurs, you think of their extinction but they roamed the earth for 165 million years. Compare that to our 6 million and it's almost mind boggling, at least imo.

The modern form of humans is 200,000 years old but if we include our humanoid ancestors, we've been here 6 million years.

saymynamebastien , James Lee Report

Jyri Hakola
Community Member
1 month ago

What is mndboggling here that while we often see illustrations of fights between Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex those would have been impossible. A whopping 90 million years of time separates Stegosaurus and T-Rex while "only" c 70 million years separates us from T-Rex.

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#6

Things-Older-Than-We-Think The fact that the lighter is older than the match shook my head as a kid.

It also gave me the curiosity to question things that seems obvious.

Gyroklovn , wikipedia Report

Phil.
Community Member
1 month ago

When was it invented?

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Earlier, I spoke about the future of tech with Aaron Genest, an Applications Engineering Manager for Siemens Software and the President of SaskTech. According to him, making accurate predictions about the future of tech and devices is difficult but not impossible.

"I'd argue that most people underestimate the timelines necessary to produce the technological goods on which we rely and the investment made to allow them to exist. By looking 'upstream' in that investment space, we can have a pretty good idea of what whole industries are betting on," Aaron from Siemens told Bored Panda earlier.

#7

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Contact lenses.

Leonardo da Vinci had the idea of contact lenses in 1508 and the first successful contact lenses were made in 1888.

-eDgAR- , wikipedia Report

Gareth Graham
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

The first contact lenses (in 1888) were so rough the creator had to dowse his eyes with cocaine powder to numb them and that only lasted 30 minutes

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#8

Things-Older-Than-We-Think The sentiment that modern society is degenerate and that the youth are to blame is, iirc, one of the oldest things we have written down.

That I can remember off the top of my head, Cato the Elder complained that the younger generations were becoming too greek, and Socrates used to complain that the younger generations were ruining their brains by writing instead of memorising information. There are far more older examples, but those are the oldest I remember (maybe Socrates was onto something)

CountPeter , wikipedia Report

mcborge1
Community Member
1 month ago

Some things never change.

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#9

Things-Older-Than-We-Think The ancient Romans (well, the wealthy ones) had central heating in their homes. You can actually still see the pipes in some of the buildings at Herculaneum!

jazzman0116 , wikipedia Report

ADHORTATOR
Community Member
1 month ago

You can see them all over Europe at many sites

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"For instance, it takes almost two years to develop and produce a computer chip and get it to market for a phone, and five years to get something into a new kind of car. So if we want to have a sense of what, for instance, the gadgets in our cars will look like in 2026, we just need to look at what the car manufacturers are asking their suppliers to design today,” the expert explained to Bored Panda.

So take a look at history, have a peek at what’s going on currently, and soon enough you might be predicting the future along with the best of the best, dear Pandas!

#10

Things-Older-Than-We-Think I was really surprised to discover when Oxford university was founded. They don’t know the year for sure, but they know there was definitely teaching going on there in 1096.

princess_mothership , wikipedia Report

tiari
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

Oldest university is Bologna, Italy. It was founded between 1180 and 1190, but non-ecclesiastical teaching had been going on at least since 1088.

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#11

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Beer is thought to be older than bread.

It's much easier to fill a jar with wheat and water, let it ferment, and brew beer than it is to grind grain, mix it, and bake it.

4dseeall Report

Kira Okah
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

This one is interesting as the earliest evidence of both are from the same culture - the Natufians - but while the beer is dated not long after the domestication of grains 13,000 years ago, the bread's dating is not as definitive and is between 11,600 and 14,600 years ago. Was flatbread.

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#12

Things-Older-Than-We-Think The Aux connector that we still use for headphones and speakers was invented in 1877. There have been improvements since, but the basics of it are pretty much the same.

given2fly_ , wikipedia Report

Gandalf the Pink
Community Member
1 month ago

It was the bigger sibling, like 6.3mm plugs used for electric guitars. It was used for telephone switch boards, hence why they are still sometimes called telephone cables. It's a very simple but awesome piece of technology, and it's so cool like the post says, we are still using them but they are pretty much the same, almost 150 years later.

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#13

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Oxford university. It’s older than the Aztec empire

Euphorix126 , wikipedia Report

Donald Drake
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

So... the Aztecs might have used the Oxford Comma?

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#14

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Flushing toilets date all the way back to the Indus River Valley civilization, back in 2000 BC

steveguyhi1243 , wikipedia Report

Kari Panda
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

That doesn’t mean they were common worldwide and in all social classes though. If I remember correctly, they became more common in Europe at the end of the 19th century in wealthier households, and where I grew up, we didn‘t get out first flushing toilet till 1996.

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#15

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Stonehenge.

It predates the oldest Pyramid in Egypt by nearly 300 years.

squeeeeenis Report

mcborge1
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

And in the underhenge was the Pandorica. :D

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#16

You. By the law of conservation of mass “ no mass can be created or lost simply moved or changed into something else” your body and all inside of it and everything in the universe for that matter has been around since the very start. Only in random atoms etc and when we die our bodies are recycled back into the universe to be made into something cool. Like cow poo.

jxcobs12 Report

*me*
Community Member
1 month ago

Cow poo? Awesome! Mommy when I grow up I want to be cow poo!

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#17

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Wristwatches. Queen Elizabeth I got one in 1571.

Aqquila89 Report

bryguy
Community Member
1 month ago

Interestingly in the 1540s the Swiss watch industry was born because reformer John Calvin banned people from wearing jewelry. This forced jewelers to learn another craft, watchmaking.

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#18

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Nintendo. This company was actually created in 1889.

[deleted] , wikipedia Report

qwerty
Community Member
1 month ago

They sold something else. I can't remember what. I think it was playing cards or something like that.

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#19

Paul Rudd

helpicantfindanamehe Report

*me*
Community Member
1 month ago

How? What is his secret to eternal youth?

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#20

The name Tiffany.

It dates back to the 12th century, and has actually led to a thing in writing called "the Tiffany problem," because you can have a well-researched historical novel that people just don't buy into, because you named your 12th century peasant Tiffany. It just sounds laughably anachronistic.

BeaneathTheTrees Report

Kirsten Kerkhof
Community Member
1 month ago

It is derived from Theophania.

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#21

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Oreos.

I was shocked to learn that Oreos predate chocolate chip cookies, sliced bread, and my 100 year old Great Grandmother.

TheSilentShane , The Creative Exchange Report

Jim Ellington
Community Member
1 month ago

And before there were Oreos there were the original chocolate sandwich cookies, Hydrox.

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See Also on Bored Panda
#22

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Sharks. As a species they're older than the rings of Saturn.

scannon , wikipedia Report

Paul K. Johnson
Community Member
1 month ago

Sharkringnado - Sharks on Saturn - the Next Chapter.

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#23

A lot of fads have this sense of modernity to them -- that you have an Instagram influencer pushing a product and everyone leaps onto it in order to be hip and cool -- but it's nothing compared to the way people followed trends in the past.

I've written about the case of French people having rectal surgery because it was fashionable before, but there are dozens of examples. Even something as basic as the fork only became popular because Catherine de Medici made it trendy in the courts of France; before then, it was considered positively barbaric because it allowed you to eat too quickly and without grace. And then there are the fashion trends that were literally lethal, like lead oxides to whiten skin for purely aesthetic reasons. (After all, pale skin meant you weren't tanned, which was hard to pull off unless you were rich enough that you didn't have to work outside; you don't see a lot of pale farmers.)

And then you get what we'd call viral challenges today. You think planking was dumb? Well, you would have loved phonebooth stuffing, which was huge in the fifties and involved trying to cram as many people as possible into a phonebooth. Why? Just because.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Portarossa Report

*me*
Community Member
1 month ago

I would participate in phone-booth cramming

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#24

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Fax Machines. They were invented in 1843. Before the telephone.

Darpyface Report

Aeon Flux
Community Member
1 month ago

How???

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#25

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Brain Surgery In 1997, archaeologists discovered an ancient tomb in the French village of Ensisheim from 5,000 BC, which contained the decomposing body of a 50-year-old man with holes in his skull. After a thorough examination, it was determined that the holes, located near the frontal lobe, were caused by a type of surgery, not by forced trauma, and the operation appears to have been successful because the wounds healed before the patient's death. To this day, however, researchers cannot say for sure what exactly the surgery was trying to fix.

[deleted] , Danielle Kurin Report

Aeon Flux
Community Member
1 month ago

Trepanning. This was in Aztec sites too.

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#26

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Escalators have been around since 1859, though they were called rotating stairs.

KidHarvey Report

Elena Ktmr
Community Member
1 month ago

Did they have humans in bicycles below, pedalling like hell to make them move? :-D

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#27

Astronomer here! The star HD 140283, also nicknamed the "Methuselah Star," is about 200 light years away from us and looks nondescript. However, if we take its composition and compare it to our standard models of stellar evolution for other, better-studied stars, the star's age pops out as 14.46 ± 0.8 billion years old. Let me remind you, the universe is thought to be about 13.8 billion years old, and we don't think we got the first stars until maybe 200 million years after that...

Obviously, we do not think the Methuselah star is literally older than the universe when it is more likely that we just don't understand stellar evolution for stars like it super well. However, it is exciting because it is undoubtedly a very old star, and currently we do not have any observations of what the first stars were like in the universe. (Called Population III stars, it's thought they were larger than stars are today because there were no metals from stellar fusion to contaminate the hydrogen gas, and they'd thus only live a few million years tops.) As such, it's very interesting to have a very old star relatively next door to us in the Milky Way! It will be really interesting in coming years if other very early stars are finally observed to figure out how old they are, and how they compare to this one.

Andromeda321 Report

chi-wei shen
Community Member
1 month ago

With ±0.8 billion years it's still within the age of the universe, which is known with an error marge of ±0.04 billion years.

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#28

Things-Older-Than-We-Think The first carbonated drink to be sold to the public was invented by Swiss watchmaker and amateur scientist J. J. Schweppe in 1783, who sold his delicious "sparkling water" to thirsty customers in Geneva. In just seven years, he was doing business so fast that he moved the factory to London and introduced a new flavor, sparkling lemon, to stand out from competitors who were trying to imitate his drink.

DarkSyrupp , wikipedia Report

sofacushionfort
Community Member
1 month ago

Monks were trying to make wine without bubbles in the 1600’s, but finally gave up and sold champagne.

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#29

Things-Older-Than-We-Think The use of concrete. It's use goes as far back as the Mayans, but more notably in Egyptian construction as well as in Rome. The Romans had an arguably greater concrete mix than we currently have, but that was never passed down. Eventually the use of concrete fell out of popularity for centuries as we seemingly lost the information needed to create it, as if the recipe was thrown out and nobody wrote it down.

Also Samuel L Jackson. The man is 71 years old, but looks like he hasn't aged in decades!

DanBeecherArt , wikipedia Report

Dynein
Community Member
1 month ago

The great thing about Roman concrete: It became harder with age due to an ongoing chemical reaction (though I think it required sea water). We understand the chemical mechanisms so much better these days, but research of improvement of materials is focused on _avoiding_ a long-term change of the composition. It's good to remember that not every change over time has to be a degradation.

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#30

Things-Older-Than-We-Think Social media - wealthy ancient Romans had a system where they used slaves as scribes and messengers in order to share gossip and art/poetry and news updates with friends in their social circle.

VictorBlimpmuscle Report

mcborge1
Community Member
1 month ago

Did they read it on their Malum ipadus tablet.

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