Is there such a thing as “Lost Technology,” or is that a myth?

It is true that there is some technology that has been lost, but this also relies on how you interpret the term “technology.” The lever and the wheel were formerly considered to be cutting-edge technologies; but, as is common knowledge, the technologies that are considered cutting edge now will be considered blunt instruments in the future.


lost technology-antikythera

One that deserves mention is Antikythera. This is known as the Antikythera Mechanism, and it was discovered in a shipwreck from ancient Greece. It resembles a clock to some extent. We now know, after decades of investigation, that it is an astronomical apparatus that calculates the position of the planets against a calendar, presumably to help in the worship of the Gods. This knowledge has been acquired. Before we made this discovery, we had no idea that ancient Greeks had the capacity to manufacture screws, gears, bearings, and surfaces that could compute mechanically. We had no idea until we made this discovery. This reminds me quite a bit of an older PC.


The Uhlbert was a medieval sword that was fashioned of stainless steel hundreds of years before it was understood how steel was formed.

lost technology-uhlbert

Over 170 examples of this particular sort of sword are known to still be in circulation throughout Northern Europe. The proportions of this sword, together with its weight and overall design, would have made it an exceptional weapon in its day. Due to the fact that it was crafted from steel, it was resistant to corrosion, maintained its edge, had excellent balance, and had a pointed end that was sharp and sturdy enough to pierce chain mail without breaking. Even though researchers have figured out the processes that COULD have been used to create it, the metalsmiths of the time would have needed such a huge step forward in their knowledge and experience for it to have been possible. Because of this, it was something that had never been done before and would not be done again for another 400 years.


Pozzolana, which today we call “Portland Cement”. This technology cannot be underestimated.

lost technology-pozzolana

The Roman Empire was able to surge ahead of every other empire that existed during this time period because to this material. It was a robust, hydraulic cement that was resistant to breaking and maintained its integrity over time; in fact, it maintained its integrity for such a long period of time that many Roman constructions are still standing, and some of them are currently in use. Pozzolana and sheep’s blood were used in the construction of Roman aqueducts due to the discovery that these materials were better able to survive the effects of cold weather. The knowledge of how to make cement was lost with the fall of the Roman Empire. Even though there were many magnificent buildings constructed after Rome, none of them came close to matching the scope, strength, and endurance of the Roman monuments. The massive and powerful structures of Rome were no longer able to support the weight of the city. Later generations of scientists and philosophers would lament, “We stand on the shoulders of giants,” while referring of the decline of Roman technological and intellectual capabilities. It wasn’t until the late 1700s that someone in Maine made the discovery that certain ingredients, when combined with lime and carbonate, would produce a chemical reaction in water that resulted in a stone-like substance that could be formed into a method for adhering blocks or making huge slabs of concrete. This was the second time that cement had been discovered. The fact that this took place in Maine is the primary reason why “Portland” cement is the most prevalent moniker for this substance.

Skull Surgery

lost technology-trepanning

Trepanning is the practice of drilling or chiseling a hole into the skull. This was done to relieve swelling from a concussion. Or when combined with rudimentary brain surgery, it could “release the evil spirits” that caused seizures or migraines. Trepanation is an ancient practice, used by native peoples all over the world and dates back to Neolithic times. It may not even qualify as a “lost technology” since it’s still practiced today.

The Baghdad Battery, which was most likely an electrolysis device, the mechanism for chipping, moving, and erecting stone buildings at Machu Picchu, and the ball bearing technology used to move the gigantic stones of Stonehenge are some of the numerous technologies that have not been well explained. The human race is very clever. Because he was given no credit and laughed out of medicine for even suggesting that it was possible to reduce infection through hygiene, one could even say that the technology of hand-washing and the use of carbolics that Semmelweiss developed raised the survival rate of new mothers and babies to the level of 90 percent at the filthy hospitals of the time, before the knowledge of Germ Theory was a lost technology. It wasn’t until thirty years later that Lister and Pasteur developed new procedures that demonstrated germs were the source of illness. This led to the development of hair nets, gloves, gowns, and autoclaves for the purpose of sterilizing medical tools.

Even though it seems simple to us now, anything might be considered a technology if it helps advance society in some way. The inclined plane made labor simpler, but the ancient scientist who found that you could use the same idea to construct a “screw” that enabled the fastening of two pieces of wood, or scaled up, to move water from wells, transformed the world. Specifically, he moved water from wells.




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