From China and Egypt to Rome and Greece, these facts of ancient history are too raunchy, outrageous, and weird for any book you have read.
It turns out that the school doesn’t teach us everything we need to know about ancient history. In addition to the known, the pyramids, the kings and the wars that fill our books, the history of our world is full of incredible stories, societies, and lives that most of us have never heard of.
These stories, the raunchy ones or the unsavory ones that we don’t hear in the classroom, can give us a more intimate view of what it was really like to have lived in a totally different time, better than a censored version of the story.
Ancient History Facts
15. The ancient Romans used urine as a mouthwash. Urine contains ammonia, which is one of the best natural cleaning agents on the planet.
14. There are more pyramids in a small area of Sudan than in all of Egypt. The Meroë pyramids of the Sudan desert were also built for royalty, 2,700 to 2,300 years ago, for the Nubian kings of Kush. The empire of these pharaohs extended from the Mediterranean Sea to present-day Khartoum.
13. Goujian’s ancient sword, despite being buried for more than two millennia, is almost completely preserved. Found in a wet tomb in Hubei, China in 1965, the sword (which belongs to the King of Yue) is still sharp.
12. The ancient Egyptians invented toothpaste. It was made from rock salt, pepper, mint, and dried iris flowers.
11. The ancient South Americans, not the Egyptians, invented the mummification process. The Chinchorro people of the Atacama desert in Chile mummified their dead 2,000 years before the Egyptians. They removed the skin from the corpse, removed the muscles and organs, and filled the body with plants before re-sewing the skin and putting a mask on the face.
10. The Romans spread their own feces in their gardens. Known as “night soil,” the fertilizer they made from droppings fed the plants, but also helped spread the disease.
9. Ancient Roman women used a natural contraceptive: the herb called Silphium. They used the Silphium factory so much that it actually went extinct.
8. The ancient Mayans forced their children’s heads to look like ears of corn. They tied their baby’s head to reach the pointy shape. The Mayans were obsessed with corn, as they believed that humans were actually made from it.
7. The massive artificial caves in China dating from 200 BC. C. remains a complete mystery. The ancient Longyou caves were discovered in 1992 when a local man innocently attempted to drain a deep lake. There is no historical record of the construction of the caves, nor of their purposes.
6. Gobekli Tepe, the Turkey, is the oldest temple in the world, over 11,500 years old. This pre-agricultural structure was not discovered until 1994.
5. Ancient Egypt had documented the first government health plan. Egyptologists have evidence of these health benefits in the preserved records of the Luxor site, where 12th-century BC artisans who built the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs could either take a paid day off or receive a free medical examination.
4. A mysterious group is known as “Sea Peoples” invaded the ancient world, and we still don’t know who they were. In the late Bronze Age, the Sea Peoples fought Egyptians and others in the Mediterranean, then disappeared from the historical record as strangely as they had come.
3. Horse-riding nomadic herders in Central Asia invented pants. The old wool pants were unearthed in western China and dated carbon between the 13th and 10th centuries BC. They have straight legs, a spacious groin, and ropes to secure to the waist.
2. We know very little about the ancient druids because they forbade everyone to write their knowledge. This does not mean that they were illiterate; in fact, they were extremely intelligent, enough to realize that they did not want their knowledge to fall into the wrong hands.
1. The Mayans consumed chocolate for the first time in 600 BC. An archaeological site in northern Belize produced several ceramic vases containing the oldest known residue of Theobroma cacao. Earlier civilizations may have eaten beans before that, but the Mayans thought of mixing this chocolate early with water, honey, pepper, and cornmeal to make a frothy drink.