Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ancient Inventions by Peter James and Nick Thorpe

Ancient Inventions

Ancient Inventions
by Peter James and Nick Thorpe

Hardback: 704 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
First Released: 1994

Buy from Amazon

Source: Library

Back Cover Description:
We in the twentieth century tend to assume that our era has a monopoly on the inventions of clever machines, labor-saving devices, feats of engineering, and advanced technology. But as the authors of this fascinating and eye-opening book reveal, some of humankind's most important and most amazing inventions actually date back thousands of years. Ancient Inventions is a treasure trove of the triumphs and marvels of applied science, from the stone tools hewn by the earliest prehistoric people to the dawn of the modern era in 1492.

Historian and archaeologist team Peter James and Nick Thorpe have pooled their expertise in amassing this compendium of human ingenuity through the ages. Together they conclusively prove that our ancestors, however long ago they lived ad whatever part of the globe they occupied, were brilliant problem-solvers.

Ancient Inventions reveals that:
*Medieval Baghdad had an efficient postal service, banks, and a paper mill.
*Rudimentary calendars were being used in France as early as 13,000 B.C.
*Apartment condominiums rose in the deserts of the American Southwest a thousand years ago.
*The ancient Greeks used an early form of computer.
*Plastic surgery was being performed in India by the first century B.C.

Ancient Inventions covers a wide variety of ancient technologies and details of ancient life. The information is interesting, easy to read, and easy to understand. As you can see from the table of contents I listed below, the Sex Life section covers some intimate topics in explicit detail and includes some fairly graphic illustrations. I'd recommend this book to history buffs and anyone needing to do research on ancient technology.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Table of Contents (paraphrased)
Chapter 1: Medicine
Introduction; Surgical Instruments; Eye Operations; Plastic Surgery; Brain Surgery; False Teeth and Dentistry; False Limbs; Anesthetics; Acupuncture

Chapter 2: Transportation
Introduction; Mapmaking; Skis and Skates; Odometers; Wind Cars and Rocket Cars; Ships and Liners; The First Suez Canal; The Compass; Lighthouses; Diving Gear; Man-Bearing Kites and Parachutes; Ballooning

Chapter 3: High Tech
Introduction; Computers; Clocks; Coin-Operated Slot Machines; Automatic Doors; The Steam Engine; Automata; Earthquake Detectors; Electric Batteries; Magnets and magnetism; Magnifying Glasses

Chapter 4: Sex Life
Introduction; Aphrodisiacs; Dildos; Contraceptives; Pregnancy Tests; Sex Manuals

Chapter 5: Military Technology
Introduction; Human and Animal Armor; Tanks; Catapults and Crossbows; The "Claws" of Archimedes; Flamethrowers; Hand Grenades; From Gunpowder to the Cannon; Poison Gas

Chapter 6: Personal Effects
Introduction; Mirrors; Makeup; Tattooing; Soap; Razors; Perfume; Wigs; Clothing and Shoes; Jewelry; Spectacles; Umbrella

Chapter 7: Food, Drink, and Drugs
Introduction; Restaurants and Snack Bars; Cookbooks; Refrigeration; Chewing Gum; Tea, Coffee, and Chocolate; Wine Beer, and Brewing; Drugs; Tobacco and Pipes

Chapter 8: Urban Life
Introduction; Sewers; Pipes and Plumbing; Apartment Buildings; Fire Engines; Banks; Coins and Paper Money

Chapter 9: Working the Land
Introduction; The Reaping Machine; Waterwheel and Windmills; Pesticides; Beekeeping; Fish and Oyster Farms; Drilling and Mining; Tunneling

Chapter 10: House and Home
Introduction, Mammoth-Bone Houses; Cats and Dogs; Lavatories; Saunas; Baths; Central Heating; Glass Windows; Keys and Locks

Chapter 11: Communications
Introduction; Calendars; The Alphabet; Codes and Ciphers; Books and Printing; Encyclopedias; Postal Systems; Pigeon Post; Telegraphy

Chapter 12: Sport and Leisure
Introduction; Bullfighting; The Original Olympic Games; Ball Games; Gardens and Gardening; Zoos; Theaters' Musical Instruments; Keyboards; Written Music; Fireworks; Magic Lanterns; Playing Cards

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