Today we will talk about how entangled technology was with our way of living even before the advent of computers, robots, or artificial intelligence. India, the land of innovation and knowledge, has quite the record of making the best use of the tools available at hand and developing even better for a comfortable way of living. Ancient Indian technology is quite an interesting subject to deal with. You will see how simpler tools can be compiled together to live an easier and more fruitful life. Technology is villainized more often than not. However, this technology once played an integral role in India’s freedom struggle.
Technology has revolutionized the way of our living, and ancient Indian technology is something people still look up to for inspiration. During the struggle for freedom, Indians almost had no resources at their disposal, but that did not stop them from creating tools that people would remember for ages to come. It is important to note here that technology in India developed much before the advent of the Britishers. Some of the evidence goes back to the times of the Indus Valley Civilization and Susruta.
The 14 most Incredible Technologies Used In Ancient India
1. Ancient Dentistry
Death and time decay your flesh, but what is left behind is your skeleton and teeth. Therefore, tooth problems are as old as the existence of human life on Earth! Consequently, it must not surprise you that the land of healers- India, has developed tools to treat tooth problems.
Historians and archaeologists who worked on the Indus Valley Civilization have unearthed evidence that suggests that the Indians practiced dentistry as far back as 7000 BC. One of the significant sites in Mehrgarh has revealed that these healers would often use bow drills to cure tooth problems.
2. The ancient flush toilet system
The people of the Indus Valley Civilization have always prioritized hygiene and cleanliness. Ancient Indian technology played an integral role in allowing people to keep their surroundings clean effectively and easily. Some things that might seem modern to you were developed around 2500 BC, and the flush system is one of them. In fact, the ancient Indian people had far better sewage systems than most of the countries in the world.
Studies have shown that almost every house in Harappa and Mohenjodaro had a well-developed flush system in their toilets, and those flush systems were connected to a sophisticated sewage system. It is no surprise that the people in India still prioritize hygiene and cleanliness so much.
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Ayurveda is an ancient form of healing that is still in existence. It is famous around the world for its effectiveness and unique way of healing. The ancient Indian people knew how to make the best use of herbs and metals present with them. Developed around 5000 BC, Ayurveda is still known for healing or curing terminal diseases.
You can call Ayurveda a gift of the Indian subcontinent to the world. The complex herbal compounds and minerals used in this healing method are unique to its land of origin. As a form of technology, it was arguably ahead of its time because its practitioners even successfully conducted surgeries and saved lives.
4. Plastic Surgery
The West might have popularized plastic surgeries, but it was first in India that the art of re-modeling flesh was invented. Ancient Indian technology was more advanced than you think. The father of plastic surgery, Susruta, discovered the science of plastic surgery as early as 2000 B.C. His books and work later travelled to Europe, and then he became known as the ‘father of plastic surgery’ by 600 BC.
It is interesting to note here that the tools of surgery developed by Susruta were so advanced and precise that they could split a hair into two vertically. His skills and perseverance made surgeries less painful even centuries ago.
5. Pythagorean Theorem
Now, this might come as a shock, but yes, long before Pythagoras could think of the theorem he named after himself, the ancient Indian philosophers, with the help of all the technology at their disposal, developed its namesake theorem around 700 BC. This Pythagorean theorem was as accurate and scientific as you can think it to be. Used by some of the most scientific minds of those times, the Pythagorean theorem could help you quickly calculate the shortest possible distance between two points.
In India, Baudhayana Sulba Sutra came up with the theorem around 800 BC to 500 BC, along with geometrical proof for the isosceles right triangle.
6. Cataract Surgery
India is called the land of healing, and rightly so. There are several forms of surgery and medicine that the world learned about much later than the indigenous people. A cataract is a problem in the eye which usually develops among older people. In ancient India, the kind of cataract surgery practiced differed from the ones known to their Greek counterpart. Nevertheless, it was equally effective and efficient.
Therefore, around 200 A.D., a tool called Jabamukhi Salaka (curved needle) was used to loosen the eye lens and get the cataract out of the vision field. It was from India that China learned the method to conduct cataract surgery.
7. Fibonacci Numbers
It was in Indian mathematics that the Fibonacci number system first appeared. To be more precise, the Fibonacci number system was called matrameru in Sanskrit and was first mentioned by Pingala. Much before the Italian mathematicians could even think about it, several Indian scholars or pioneers of ancient Indian technology gave the methods by which these numbers were formed.
Needless to say, it was Fibonacci who introduced this fascinating numeric system to the Western world.
8. Ruler Measurements
This brings us back to the Indus Valley Civilisation yet again. Excavations at Harappa and Mohenjodaro have yielded rulers or linear measure scales. These rulers were made from ivory and shell. There were minute measurements marked on it, which were pretty much accurate. The accuracy of ancient Indian technology cannot be challenged even today because the people used scales similar to ours. For instance, the measurements marked on these scales correspond to the inch and centimeter system.
9. Smelting of Zinc
Ancient Indian technology was way ahead of its time. India was one of the first countries to develop the process of smelting zinc with the help of distillation. As we already know, Indians were quite knowledgeable about the science of alchemy. Ancient Persians were also known for attempting to smelt zinc, but they could not achieve any success. Zawar, a small place in the Tiri Valley of Rajasthan, was used for smelting zinc for the first time.
The process of smelting zinc goes back to almost the 12th century A.D. This is considered one of the most important contributions of India to the world of science.
10. Seamless metal globe
This is one of the most brilliant contributions of ancient Indian technology to the world of metallurgy. The first seamless celestial globe was first developed in Kashmir by Ali Kashmiri ibn Luqman during the time of Akbar.
These Mughal metallurgists perfected the method of lost-wax casting, and with the help of it, they could make 20 other globes considered masterpieces worldwide. This added another star to the Mughal metallurgy.
11. Iron-cased Rockets
It was none other than Tipu Sultan who developed the first ever iron-cased rockets back in 1780 in his fight against the British. He was even able to successfully use them against the enormous forces of the British East India Company in the Anglo-Mysore Wars.
Ancient Indian technology is fascinating in more ways than you can think. Tipu Sultan of Mysore used iron tubes filled with gunpowder to make these rockets. It was with the help of bamboo poles that he launched these rockets. Within 2 km, these rockets caused enormous damage and baffled the Britishers in the best way possible.
For ancient Indian technology, the sky was quite literally the limit. The Jyotishvedanga texts have several sections of it dedicated to astronomy. However, it was Aryabhatta who developed the subject more concretely in his text Aryabhattiya around 499 A.D. This text deals with the movement of the Sun and Moon and the calculation of eclipses in the most precise manner possible.
Ancient Indian technology comes in layers. The deeper you seek, the more you come to know about it. It is fascinating to see how people who lived thousands of years ago predicted the rules and norms of the world with such scientific precision. At times you might be forced to think if some divine intervention happened.
Ancient Indian technology inspired the whole world back then and continues to do so even now. Nothing is more amusing than the unmatched ability of the people who lived in the era of no “technology” yet functioned as its precursor. To say that the civilization and the people of India were great would be an understatement. They showed the world the light of knowledge, which has been kept alive even today.
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