The ancient Egyptians were one of the most intriguing and mysterious civilizations in history. They erected enormous stone pyramids without the use of any of the heavy machinery we have today, they had a culture rich in mythology and unique ideas about death and the afterlife, and they were one of the first groups of people to translate their spoken language into a written one. You don't have to be an Egyptologist to know that we owe the Egyptians big time for many of the ideas we still use today, but it may surprise you to learn that these six things we use on a regular basis were invented by the ancient Egyptians as well.
Okay, so this first one isn't so surprising. Egyptians invented writing, so it makes sense that they invented paper, too. Before the Egyptians started using papyrus to write on, everyone else was using clay tablets, stones, animal hides, or wood. Once papyrus was created (by pressing together pieces of the stalk of a papyrus plant to make a smooth surface), it changed the way people wrote all over the world. Papyrus was exported to places all over the Mediterranean, and the idea was eventually refined into the paper we use today.
Speaking of papyrus, the oldest formula for toothpaste ever written was found on a piece of papyrus that is said to be more than 1,700 years old. The writer of the recipe called it "a powder for white and perfect teeth," which, when mixed with saliva, forms a "tooth paste" that cleans teeth. Ingredients included rock salt, mint, dried iris flower, and crushed pepper. One dentist who tried it said that it made his gums bleed, but that it was much more effective than some other toothpastes that were created in the last century.
Scientists knew that the ancient Egyptian civilization was advanced, but they didn't know just how advanced it was until they discovered a prosthetic toe on the foot of a female mummy that dates back to sometime between 950 to 710 BCE. While false body parts were often attached to mummies for burial purposes, experts are in agreement that this toe was in fact used while the person was still alive. The wear and tear on the papier-mâché-type appendage (which was thought to be tied onto the foot or a sandal with string) proved that it was used to help the person walk, which means that we may have to thank the Egyptians for passing down their knowledge of prosthetics to modern-day doctors.
The Modern Calendar
While Egyptians weren't the first to invent a calendar, they did create the calendar that laid the basis for the one we use today. Since farming was very important to the Egyptians, they made up a schedule of when the different seasons were (the flooding season, the sowing season, and the harvesting season) to make their farming practices more efficient. After doing extensive research on the movements of the stars and the solar cycle, they broke each season into four months, each with 30 days (with a couple extra at the end of the season), which gave us the 365 day calendar we have been using ever since.
For some reason, many scholars credit Leonardo da Vinci with inventing scissors (maybe because he invented so darn many other things). There is proof, though, that the Ancient Egyptians were using scissors long before da Vinci was even born—way back in 1500 BCE, to be precise. These scissors were composed of a single piece of bronze formed into two blades and held together by a strip of metal. The strip of metal kept the blades apart until they were squeezed together to cut things.
The oldest lock known to man was extracted from the remains of an Egyptian palace, and it was surprisingly complex. The lock consisted of "a wooden bolt securing a door, with a slot with several holes on its upper surface. A device attached to the door contained wooden pins which would drop into the holes and secure the bolt." A wooden key with matching pins would be inserted into the lock to open it, giving later civilizations some great ideas to work with when they started coming up with their own security systems.