18 Weird and Amazing Facts About Ancient Civilizations

When we think ancient, the first thought that comes to our head is unsophisticated or backward. But, what history has to say is completely opposite. Sure, the ancient people, at times, had strange traditions and rituals with strange laws and rules, but there was also advanced innovation and technological intelligence that never ceases to astonish us. So here are a few facts about ancient civilizations, some of which are just plain weird while the others are utterly sophisticated and cultured.

1. The Aztecs made swords embedded with prismatic obsidian blades that are far sharper than even high quality present day steel razor blades. 

Aztec Obsidian Blades
Image Source: funsubstance, Wikimedia Commons

The sword known as “macuahuitl” was a wooden sword with obsidian blades and used as the standard close combat weapon. Obsidian is a hard glass-like rock formed when the lava from a volcano solidifies rapidly before it could crystallize. The swords were made for either one-handed or two-handed grip, with the two-handed one being “as tall as a man”. The obsidian blades were discontinuously arranged with gaps along the side or sometimes they were set close together forming a single edge. According to the Spanish conquistadors, the weapon was so cleverly built that the blades could neither be pulled out nor could they be broken.(source)

2. In ancient Egypt, men could take time off from work to care for menstruating wives and daughters.

Ancient Egypt Workers
Image Source: sixfiftyml

The workers and craftsmen who were hired to build the tombs and pyramids of pharaohs in ancient Egypt had access to many health-care benefits and there are many parallels to the health care system of ancient Egypt and the modern world. According to archaeologist Anne Austin who was exploring the remains of an ancient Egyptian village, there was evidence of the residents being the beneficiaries of what she calls “the world’s first documented health-care plan”. The worksmen were well-provided for and there is evidence to suggest that they would take time off to care for their wives and daughters when they were menstruating.(source)

3. In Ancient Egypt, dwarfs were seen as people who had celestial gifts, were treated with the greatest respect and enjoyed the highest social positions.

Ancient Egypt Dwarves
Image Source: , Wikimedia Commons

Dwarves enjoyed a significantly elevated social standing in Egypt and were treated with immense respect. They weren’t shunned because of their short stature and were welcomed as a proper member into the family. They were thought to possess divine gifts and were employed as jewelers, cup-bearers for the nobility, tailors and entertainers, and even held official positions. The Egyptians had several dwarf gods such as Bes, the god of dreams, luck and dancing, and Ptah, the god of arts, crafts and creativity. The dwarves were never depicted in a comic way and received lavish funerals.(source)

4. Ancient Egypt had many medical specialists, including proctologists who were called “shepherds of the anus”.

Ancient Egypt Medicine
Image Source: gazabpost

There were many ranks and specializations in the field of medicine in ancient Egypt. Dating as far back as 27th century BC, there are records of a physician named Hesy-Ra who was the “Chief of Dentists and Physicians” to King Djoser and lady Peseshet, who was called the “Lady Overseer of the Lady Physicians”. There were also ophthalmologists, gastroenterologists, proctologists, dentists, “doctor who supervises butchers” and an unspecified “inspector of liquids”. The ancient Egyptian term for a proctologist was “neru phuyt” which literally meant “shepherd of the anus”. During the 1st Dynasty, the Egyptians also established institutions called Houses of Life, which might have served medical purposes like hospitals.(source)

5. Spiked dog collars were invented in ancient Greece and were originally designed to protect the dogs throat from wolf attacks.

Ancient Greece Dog Collar
Image Source: ohl, barcelonadogs

Farmers kept both sheepdogs and farm dogs as guards for their assets. The dogs were given leather collar called “melium”, which was studded with nails. This is so that in the event of a wolf attack their necks would be protected while they defended the sheep. The Greeks preferred to have their farm dogs dark so that they would be difficult to spot in the dark, where as the sheepdogs had to be white.(source)

6. Ancient Persians would drink to excess after making an important decision to know that the decision was sound if they still felt the same way about it when intoxicated.

Ancient Persia - Drinking
Image Source: asia, Wikimedia Commons

According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, the ancient Persians had a ritual of intoxication that requires one to get drunk on wine after making a decision. The purpose of this ritual was to ascertain the usefulness of a decision. Since they believed that you could only tell the truth when you are drunk, they would drink quite a lot of wine after deciding and if their minds still felt the decision was right then it is considered the right decision.(source)

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