7 Modern Conveniences That Are Way Older Than You Think

#3. The Ancient Inuit Had Sunglasses

Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Quick, if you had to guess which era these glasses belonged to, what would you say? We'd go with, oh, the 24th century or so.

Via Royal Ontario Museum
That's some Duck Dodgers shit right there.

That looks like something Griff Tannen's henchmen would be wearing. Well, our estimate is slightly off: These "snow-goggles" were invented around 2,000 years ago by the ancestors of the Inuit at the Old Bering Sea. They're called that because the small slits are designed to allow people to look at the tundra on a bright day without having their retinas explode from all the sunlight reflecting off the snow. They're made from ivory, so they would have been completely white back when they were first made, making them look even more futuristic. The Inuit still use them today, because why wouldn't they?

Via Ic.sunysb.edu
Other than the fact that it makes them look like they want to kill The Flash.

Somehow, the sunglasses fad must have found its way to Europe, because shortly after the snow-goggles were invented the Roman Emperor Nero is said to have used gemstones to look at gladiators killing each other in the arena -- apparently these emerald-green stones Nero probably had lying around his bathroom somewhat cut down on the glare.

About 1,200 years later in China, some judges wore opaque, quartz-like shaded glasses over their eyes, not to block the sun or look cool, but to block their reactions to evidence being heard in court (and keep the accused's sphincter clenched during the entire proceedings). Whether or not the glasses helped judges sleep through trial without being noticed isn't in the historical record, but would be awesome.

Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images
You pretty much know they're guilty in the first 30 seconds anyway.

#2. Vikings Had Arrest Warrants, Child Support, and Welfare

Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

In the popular imagination Vikings are less "enlightened lawmakers" and more "hairy guys jumping around with axes shouting RAAAAR." And yet, not only did they have progressive rape laws, as we've mentioned before -- they had a whole legal code to ensure every Viking was treated fairly.

Don't believe us? Here's a section of a real Viking saga where, at the point where you'd think they'd start chopping people's limbs off, one of the Vikings literally stops to ask for a warrant:

Via Amazon
"I have your warrant right here!" said Thorbjorn, unleashing his sword. There was a legal document at the tip.

Another long Icelandic saga follows the exploits of Njall Zorgeirsson, a ruthless pirate who begins by attacking the coast of -- just kidding, he's a lawyer. In fact, if you sit down and read Viking sagas, you'll find that a lot of them are one-third "savage Norsemen getting angry and killing each other" and two-thirds "arguing about it later in court." The Vikings even had regular public law gatherings, called Things, in which crimes were prosecuted using a complex system of fines and settlements for death and wrongful injury.

Often people who had nothing to do with either party would prosecute a case because of the fame and admiration it brought. We're talking about people whose everyday clothing was half metal, half animals they skinned themselves, and they still thought defending someone in a court of law was the coolest thing ever.

Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
It's how you earned your horn helmet and beard.

But these savage warriors didn't just think of themselves when making their laws, they also had plenty of compassion for the weak. The Gragas (the 12th century Icelandic legal code based on the Vikings' oral rules) outlined a tax system guaranteeing care of the poor if their own families or local communities could not provide for them, even if the recipients did not permanently reside in Iceland, and stipulated a system of child support after divorce, in which both spouses were expected to contribute to the children's upbringing according to their wealth and their ability to work.

Steve Baccon/Digital Vision/Getty Images
And that's how goths were born.

#1. Neanderthals Used Plants as Medication

Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Picture a Neanderthal holding some herbs. What would you say he's about to do with them? If you said "give himself rectal hives by wiping with poison ivy," then you're ... absolutely right, but that's not all they'd use plants for: They'd also eat very specific ones to cure specific ailments -- Neanderthals officially knew more about medicine than half of us.

How do we know? It's all thanks to a group of intrepid scientists brave enough to probe cavemen teeth under a very strong microscope. Zooming in on the plaque, they spotted tiny particles imbedded in these prehistoric choppers. Karen Hardy from the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies and Stephen Buckley from the University of York pored over the data and found remnants of chamomile and yarrow. And here's the thing: These plants had no nutritional value and, more importantly, many of them would taste like shit. Yes, even to a Neanderthal.

Girly bubble bath technology hadn't been invented yet.

According to the study, these giant-jawed morons supplemented their diets with chamomile because it aids digestive problems, and yarrow because it's an antiseptic. These substances also alleviated stress (they had to deal with wives and little green spacemen, after all) and helped battle the symptoms of a cold or fever. Chamomile is actually a potent anti-inflammatory agent and would have served as the equivalent of a few doses of ibuprofen.

Also, some of the plants had been roasted or smoked, suggesting there were different ways to administer each one. Considering that our current knowledge of nutrition has only been significantly advanced over the past hundred years or so, it's all the more impressive that cavemen could self-medicate almost 50,000 years ago and not end up tripping balls at the bottom of a canyon.

"The good news is, I found Jimmy."

C. Coville's twitter is here. Bryan Douey currently writes for the Man, and is contractually obligated to NOT want you to follow him, on Twitter or elsewhere.

Related Reading: For a primer in technology that existed WAY earlier than you'd expect, >click here. You'll be surprised to learn just how long batteries have been around. To go in the opposite direction, read about simple things invented super recently. Freaking time zones weren't invented until 1880! Last, wind down and learn about modern inventions predicted by science fiction.

Recommended For Your Pleasure

To turn on reply notifications, click here


The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!