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How Impressive Were Ancient Engineering Methods

The most impressive feats of modern engineering tend to happen at the subatomic level, but ancient architects and builders were working in an era before theories of quantum mechanics and special relativity came to prominence. Ancient engineering had so few of today’s technologies but created many impressive results, especially in architecture. Here are some of the most impressive examples of ancient engineering in architecture.

The construction of metal clamps that hold giant stone blocks together. There are structures that have stood for thousands of years are still standing.

Method of heating in ancient Rome baths and public buildings
Method of heating was used in ancient Rome baths and public buildings, using a Hypocaust. The hypocaust is essentially a centralized heating system that produces hot air under the flooring of the room, which could also be transmitted to the walls using a series of pipes. It is considered the world’s first central heating.


5,000-year-old Peruvian technology
Shicras are a type of woven vegetable fiber baskets filled with stones that were used as an anti-seismic foundation system for the buildings of the Caral-Supe civilization in Peru. The technique is over 5000 years old and served to dissipate seismic energy during earthquakes

Bridge 77 on Macclesfield Canal (Lambert’s Lane)
Snake bridge over the Macclesfield canal allowed the towpath to cross the canal without the horse being unhitched from the narrowboat it was pulling. This often involved unhitching the tow line, but on some canals, they were constructed so that there was no need to do this by placing the two ramps on the same side of the bridge, which turned the horse through 360 degrees. On the Macclesfield Canal, this was achieved by building spiral ramps and on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal and others by constructing roving bridges of iron in two cantilevered halves, leaving a slot in the middle for the tow rope. This was also called a split bridge. For cost reasons many ordinary Stratford bridges were also built in this way as they had no towpath.

An Inca stone bridge at the archaeological complex of Huarautambo in Peru. The complex was built during the government of Pachakutiq Inka Yupanki

Sweet Track
The Sweet Track is a 5830-year-old Neolithic timber walkway, located in the Somerset Levels in England and discovered in 1970. It was originally part of a network of tracks built to provide a dry path across the marshy ground.

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