30 Inventions That Put Their Mark on the World

THE SAILBOAT – ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA, 6000 BC

Ushering in the Age of Sail, which transformed early trade and transport, the ancient Mesopotamian Ubaid culture (modern-day Iraq) was the first to use sailboats, as a means of crossing the Tigris and Euphrates rivers around which the culture was based.

 

THE WHEEL – UNKNOWN, 4000-3500 BC

Like the sailboat, the wheel revolutionized the movement of people, livestock and goods, not to mention pottery making and milling. Experts can’t pinpoint exactly when and where it was invented, but Bronze Age Mesopotamia or Eurasia are the most likely candidates.

 

THE NAIL – ANCIENT EGYPT, 3400 BC

Not just renowned for building the pyramids, the ancient Egyptians invented one of the fundamentals of carpentry and construction – the humble but mighty nail. Three millennia later, the Romans were the first to mass-produce nails, which they forged from wrought iron.

 

SOAP – ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA, 2800 BC

Improvements in human hygiene have enabled civilizations to flourish. The first indoor toilet was created at Skara Brae in northern Scotland way back in 3000 BC. Around the same time, the first cleansing soaps, made from wood ash and animal fat, were invented in ancient Mesopotamia.

 

THE ABACUS – ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA, 2700 BC

Precursor to the electric calculator as well as the computer, the abacus emerged in ancient Mesopotamia around 2700 BC and was used to make calculations based on the Sumerian culture’s relatively complex numerical system. This clever device was an essential tool for monetary systems and trade in the ancient world.

 

THE COMPASS – CHINA, 206 BC

The invention of this key navigational gizmo transformed seafaring and eventually helped bring about the Age of Discovery, as well as a huge expansion in world trade. Invented in China in 206 BC as a fortune-telling aid, the compass wasn’t used as a navigational tool until the 11th century AD.

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