Ancient Egypt is known for a few things. Its pyramids and other architectural marvels, its complex and enchanting pantheon, and its revolutionary hieroglyphics writing system are among them, but perhaps most remarkable are those inventions and achievements still in use today. Ancient Egyptians created an early predecessor to paper, door locks and the 365-day calendar, and made significant improvements to the plow.

The Predecessor to Paper

Growing in Egypt’s Nile River is a plant called papyrus. From this plant ancient Egyptians began making papyrus, a product similar to paper. The stem of this reedy plant was cut into strips, which would be laid in crisscrossing layers and pressed into a thin sheet. It was very valuable, and its production was a trade secret closely guarded by Egypt’s rulers. So closely guarded was this secret that when papyrus was eventually replaced by paper, the knowledge of how Egyptians produced papyrus was lost for almost two millennia.

The First 365 Days

The calendar is something so familiar, you might not even think of it as an invention. In fact, the whole concept of a 365-day calendar year was concocted thousands of years ago by the Egyptians to help keep track of when the Nile would flood, when to plant and when to harvest. Ancient Egyptians observed that the lunar month and agricultural cycle could be mapped to 29-day periods, resulting in approximately 365 days. The calendar, used for administrative purposes, was divided into three seasons of four months each, with each month having 30 days, for a total of 360 days. To help adjust the calendar to more accurately suit the agricultural calendar, Egyptian officials added five religious holidays to honor the children of the gods.

Beasts of Burden

Nobody knows for sure who invented the first plow, but it was the Egyptians who first thought to make plowing a much easier task by yoking their plow up to a couple of oxen. Though it was a big step forward, it was still a relatively inefficient method of plowing, as they harnessed the plow to the animals’ horns and the plow did not have wheels. It was simply an ox team dragging a plow through the dirt with a driver and a plowman to hold the plow in position. The Greeks would later improve on this design by adding wheels.

Ancient Egypt Security Company

From such archaic inventions as the calendar and the plow to something as seemingly modern as the pin and tumbler lock, Egyptian innovations really run the gamut. A pin and tumbler lock features a cylinder or bolt with holes in its top. Pins set into a crossbar or casing drop into the bolt to hold it in place, and the door cannot be opened until a key is used to lift those pins out of the bolt. The oldest preserved lock, thought to be about 4,000 years old, was found in the ruins of Nineveh on the eastern banks of the Tigris River in what is now modern-day Iraq.