Ancient Inventions (1400s and Earlier) Part 3

Do you know what a screwdriver was first used for and who invented it? Have you ever wondered who thought of the invention of scissors and how far the instrument dates back to? Some inventions have helped nations explore other parts of the world. In this article, you will learn the ins and outs behind the invention of scissors, silk, and the screwdriver. You will also encounter the anemometer and caravel and how they fit into history.


Thousands of years ago (approximately 1500 BC) scissors were invented during ancient Egyptian times. Researchers have uncovered an early pair of scissors throughout ancient Egyptian ruins. Unlike the scissors we use today, early pairs were made from one piece of metal instead of the use of two cross-blades, which pivot about a fulcrum. Around AD 100, modern cross-bladed scissors were invented in ancient Rome, where clothes makers and barbers used them to complete their jobs. As far as the rest of the population, scissor did not become as popular until quite a bit later , say throughout the 1500s when Europeans began to show distinct interest in the tool.


That beautiful silk dress or silk tie decorated a suit would not have been a reality unless the Chinese did not make strides about 4,000 years ago. The silk thread is a product of the cocoon of the silkworm moth , a small insect that first comes into the world as a caterpillar that eats the leaves of the mulberry tree. There is actually a Chinese legend attached to the discovery of silk, as it is believed the first silk thread was uncovered when a Chinese Empress by the name of Si-Ling-Chi was positioned under a mulberry tree when a cocoon fell into her tea. This is when she noticed that strong, silky thread emerged from the cocoon, which she then used to create silk.


An anemometer is a device that measures the speed of the wind (or other airflow issues, such as a wind tunnel). The construction of the first anemometer was a disc placed perpendicular to the wind, which was invented in 1450 with the help of Italian architect, Leon Battista Alberti. A bit later, Robert Hooke (an English physicist) would reinvent the anemometer. In 1846, an Irish physicist named John Thomas Romney Robinson would produce the spinning-sup anemometer, where cups were attached to a vertical shaft that spins with the wind, causing a gear to turn as a result.


The light sailing ship used during the late 1400s was a product of the Portuguese, who developed this type of vessel, which would decorate the seas for the following 300 years. This is the ship that would allow the Portuguese explore the African coast.


One of the earliest known screwdrivers dates back to the 15th century, as slotted screws were rather popular and was actually inserted inside of the screwdriver. The screwdriver was actually used to construct the armor of gallant knights. If you are interested in catching sight of one of these suits, one is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York.