Matthew Davies Looks at Crazy Technology from The Past That We Cannot Replicate Today



There are many mysteries of our ancestors that we still can’t figure out. Civilizations thousands of years old have relics or technology that is beyond modern understanding. According to Matthew Davies, these technological achievements seem impossible to replicate in modern times. From ancient Romans to Egyptians and Assyrians, let us take a look at some crazy technology from the past that we cannot replicate today.

The Technology

  1. Advanced chemical weapon: Greek Fire – During naval battles in the middle east and Europe that dates back as far as the 7th century, Byzantines used a peculiar chemical weapon to dominate their enemies. The Greek Fire or sticky fire was a liquid that would burn even on water and sink ships to the bottom of the sea. Initially, they were packed inside bottles or jars just like Molotov cocktails and thrown out towards the enemies. 

However, later they were hurled towards enemy ships from large bronze siphons or tubes. The fire was even capable of burning over seawater and could be extinguished with vinegar. To this day, we haven’t been able to figure out the chemical formula. It was a Byzantine state secret that was guarded fiercely and known to very few individuals. However, along with them, the Greek fire has been lost to history and there is no reason to bring it back again. 

  1. The All-Natural Miracle Drug – King Mithridates VI of Pontus who reigned a century before the time of Christ was known to have developed it and later the drug was perfected by the personal physician of King Nero. Silphium, the wonder drug or cure-all was derived from a fruit of very specific genus of the fennel plant. Other than being a wonder drug, it was believed to be the earliest form of birth control used by the Romans. 

However, the plant could only grow in very specific conditions in North Africa along the Mediterranean. So, it has been extinct for a long time and modern scientists can’t really examine Silphium without it. 

  1. The Lycurgus Cup – The cup sits in all its glory and basks in visitor’s admiration at the Smithsonian. What’s so technologically challenging about a cup? Scientists wondered the same until they hit it with light from different angles. The ancient Roman goblet looks green when you hold it against the light from the front. However, changes into a devilish red when lit from the back. 

When British researchers tried to reverse engineer the mystery in its composition, they were astonished to find flecks of silver and gold a thousand times thinner than a human hair. Using modern technology, it is possible to make a cup with the same color-changing attributes. However, the original Roman technology is forever lost. 


Matthew Davies believes that there are several mysteries that are yet to be unlocked about ancient civilizations. We can hope to learn from them and advance our technological achievements and try our best to preserve them from being lost to history.