Ancient Past of Modern Items: Medicine & More

When an ancient inhabitant battled a toothache or the eyes started to go bad, what did ancient civilizations do to treat the problem? In this article, you will learn about some of the earliest methods used by ancient doctors and dentists.

Surgery of the Eyes

Surgery is not a modern concept, as these types of procedures existed during ancient times. The earliest record of medical operations of the eyes is found in the Bible and early Hindu documents. The Indian physician Sushruta was quite familiar with cataract surgery to correct the eyes as far back as the 6th century. A special tool was used called the Jabamukhi Salaka, which was a curved needle used to loosen the lens and push the cataract out of the field of vision. Later, the eye was soaked with warm butter, and then protected with a bandage. The method was actually successful, but the surgery was only performed when it was completely necessary.

Plastic Surgery

Surgery of the eye is not one of the oldest kinds of surgery performed during ancient days. Old records actually speak of plastic surgery that took place/ For example, ancient Indian doctors knew how to reconstruct noses as early as 2,000 BC. As punishment, some people would have their nose taken off. A method for rebuilding the nose was developed. They used a portion of the forehead to repair the nose , a technique that is actually still used today. The ancient Greeks and Romans also contemplated this type of surgery.

Dentist Tools

Just like early doctors, ancient dentists also existed in the past. There is evidence to show dentistry skills being practiced as far back as 7,000 BC in the Indus Valley Civilization. This early form of dentistry ranged from solving tooth related disorders using bow drills to operations. Evidence suggests that the methods used in ancient times were actually reliable and effective. Teeth that are estimated from 9,000 years ago show cavities with a depth of 3 ½ millimeters with concentric grooves, which indicate the use of a drill tool.


When making clothing, early civilizations living thousands of years ago relied on tools associated with the act of sewing. Archeologists have uncovered a variety of sewing needles from around the world and dating back to different time periods. Ancient Romans used needles, as well as thimbles. Excavations that took place on the island of Oland in Sweden revealed that early Stone Age tools includes bone needle cases that dated back to 6,000 BC. At a site in Russia, ivory needles dating back 30,000 years ago have been uncovered.

Another culture known to make sewing needles were the Native Americans, who used natural resources, such as the agave plant. From this plant, they got the needle and their version of thread. They’d soak the agave leaf for a long time to develop a pulp that produced long, stringy fibers. A sharp tip (the very end of a leaf) would connect the ends of the fiber to create cloth-like items. After the fibers were finished drying, the ‘needle’ was used to sew together the skins and other items.