The Unexpected Origins Of Things You Use Every Day

Every time you use a piece of paper or put on a pair of heels, you don’t give much thought to where it came from. Little do you know high heels were originally made for Persian men and paper dates all the way back to ancient Egypt.

The planet and its history really will surprise you when you start to think of the origins of everyday things!

Paper

paper
Photo Credit: Kely Sikkema / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Kely Sikkema / Unsplash

Around 3000 BC Egyptians used the long strips of papyrus plants, wove them together, and weighted them down to bind them into thin and strong sheets of paper.

Just the paper wasn’t enough. They needed something to write with, too, so for the ink, they mixed soot and other organic substances like beeswax and vegetable gum. Their paper was so durable and rot-resistant that a lot of ancient papyrus still exists today.

Makeup Protected From Evil In Egypt

makeup
Photo Credit: Radu Florin / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Radu Florin / Unsplash

Smokey eyes and cat liner date all the way back to Egypt in 4000 BC.

It was worn by both men and women, not because they wanted to look pretty, but because they believed it contained healing properties and protected them from the evil eye.

Alarm Clocks Got Plato Up For His Lectures

clock
Photo Credit: Chuttersnap / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Chuttersnap / Unsplash

It doesn’t matter how important you are, alarm clocks are vital to make sure you get up when you’re tired. The famous Greek philosopher Plato knew this and owned the first alarm clock all the way back in the 4th century BC.

His alarm clock consisted of a large water clock with a sound similar to a water organ that let him know when his lectures would start.

Heels Were For Soldiers In Persia

heels
Photo Credit: Andew Tanglao / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Andew Tanglao / Unsplash

High heels weren’t always a way to accentuate a woman’s figure during elegant events. They originate back in 15th-century Persia, where soldiers wore them to help secure their feet in stirrups.

The Persians brought the trend to Europe where male aristocrats wore them to appear taller and more powerful!

Door Locks Were Big In Egypt

door lock
Photo Credit: Gina neri / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Gina neri / Unsplash

Can you imagine living in today’s world without a lock on your front door to keep you and your belongings safe? You can thank the Egyptians for initiating lock systems.

At the time, locks were about two feet in length and made out of wood. They had a large bolt attached to the door with pins. Each lock had a different key pattern.

Treadmills Were Made To Punish Soldiers In Britain

treadmill
Photo Credit: Chuttersnap / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Chuttersnap / Unsplash

Treadmills were originally built to make people suffer for real, so it’s not new that people consider treadmills torture. When William Cubit first built them in 1818, he put them in prisons, where they’d make convicted criminals walk on them for up to 10 hours a day.

After a while, the wardens realized they could hook treadmills up to grain grinders and water pumps to work as cheap energy sources. Treadmills then spread to prisons all over Britain, until the people said that walking on treadmills was too cruel.

Bowling Was A Religious Ritual In Germany

bowling
Photo Credit: Michelle Mcewen / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Michelle Mcewen / Unsplash

In Germany in the third century AD. the first bowling game was played at church as a solemn ritual. Unlike the pins and ball with three holes you’re picturing, parishioners set up clubs that represented heathen sinners and then rolled a stone at them.

If the parishioners knocked down all the heathens, they had cleansed themselves of sin.

Mini Golf Was First Made For Victorian Women To Be Less Obscene

mini golf
Photo Credit: Waldemar Brandt / Unspash
Photo Credit: Waldemar Brandt / Unspash

When golf first came out in the Victorian era, it was solely for men. Women would still shamelessly play the game in public, raising their arms past their shoulders to hit the ball (this was considered to be very obscene and flashy by Victorians).

Instead, they ruled that women could only putt. A group of women started up the first Ladies Putting Club. By 1916, the first mini-golf course was established in America.

Birthday Candles Were An Offering To The Greek Moon Goddess

candles
Photo Credit: Aneta Pawlik / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Aneta Pawlik / Unsplash

The ancient Greeks held a festival every spring called the Munichia, where women made offerings to Artemis, the goddess of the hunt and the moon. They prepared honey cakes that they filled with candles to shine like the moon in the night sky.

Their cakes were just like our modern birthday cakes, except they sacrificed a goat with it too.

Umbrellas Were “Unmanly” When They First Appeared In Ancient Greece

umbrella
Photo Credit: Craig Whitehead / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Craig Whitehead / Unsplash

In 4th century Greece, umbrellas were made of large bones and wood or plant leaves. They had the same purpose of blocking the rain and sun, but it was unmanly for men to carry one.

So the Athenian women carried the umbrellas instead as a symbol of obedience.

Chocolate Was First Created By The Mayans

chocolate
Photo Credit: Charisse Kenion / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Charisse Kenion / Unsplash

Chocolate has its origins 3,000 years ago in ancient Mesoamerica. The Mayans, Aztecs, and Toltecs cultivated the cacao tree, and the Mayas even went as far as worshipping it.

The beverage that they prepared from the cocoa beans gave them vitality, enhanced their mood, and stimulated them sexually. The Spanish conquerors found it, saw its potential, and brought it back to Europe.

Your Morning Coffee Was Discovered By An Ethiopian Sheperd

coffee
Photo Credit: Mike Kenneally / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Mike Kenneally / Unsplash

An Ethiopian shepherd named Kaldi first discovered the effects of coffee beans when he noticed that his herd of goats became way more energetic after eating it.

His discovery was then shared with the country of Yemen where it was used by Sufi Muslims to increase their concentration while they prayed.

A Three-Course Meal Was Music To A Persian Musician’s Ear

dinner
Photo Credit: Pablo Mercan Montes / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Pablo Mercan Montes / Unsplash

The hearty and fancy three-course meal was invented by Ziryab, a Persian musician, poet, and teacher who lived in 9th-century Andalusia.

Beyond his art, he insisted that meals should be served in an order starting with a soup, then the main dish with meat or fish, and finishing off with a sweet dessert.

Democratic Government Dates All The Way Back To Ancient Greece

white house
Photo Credit: Anna Sullivan / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Anna Sullivan / Unsplash

The word “democracy” comes from the Greek term demokratia, which literally means to “rule by the people.”

The first democratic government was made of three institutions. One wrote the laws, one was a council of representatives chosen from the different Athenian tribes; and then the popular court system. Basically, not so different from what we have today.

Running A Marathon Had A Much Bigger Purpose

marathon
Photo Credit: Braden Collum / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Braden Collum / Unsplash

Legend says a soldier ran for two days over 250 kilometers from Athens to Sparta to warn the Spartans of an invasion by Persia. He happened to arrive at a bad time, while all of Sparta was celebrating a religious ritual.

Due to the limited preparation, Spartans were overpowered by the Persians. In a funny coincidence, when they revived the Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens, the winner was Spyridon Louis, himself a Greek runner.

Wigs Covered Shaved Heads In Ancient Egypt

wigs
Photo Credit: Ali Pazani / Unsplahs
Photo Credit: Ali Pazani / Unsplahs

The credit for wigs goes to the Egyptians. Because their summers were so hot, many of them used to shave their heads to keep them clean and prevent pests like lice. So they invented wigs that were available in various styles and set with perfumed beeswax.

You Can Thank Ancient China For Toilet Paper

toilet paper
Photo Credit: Morning Brew / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Morning Brew / Unsplash

The Chinese papermaking industry realized that their paper could be used for another great purpose. The story goes that in 851, an Arab traveler was astonished when he noticed that the Chinese no longer used water and a leaf as a post-toilet solution. By the 1300s, toilet paper had spread!

Sports Bras Were Worn By Aphrodite Herself

Sports bras
Photo Credit: Bruce Mars / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Bruce Mars / Unsplash

In ancient Greece, women who participated in sporting events would wear a piece of cloth over the breasts and under their clothes to restrict their movement.

Another piece of cloth known as a strophion could be worn over the clothes, providing the same type of support. Both garments were normally made of wool or linen, and tied or pinned in the back. Various statues have been found depicting the goddess Aphrodite wearing them!

Popcorn Wasn’t Always Made For Eating

popcorn
Photo Credit: Alex Munsell / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Alex Munsell / Unsplash

The Aztecs kind of introduced popcorn to the world during the Spanish invasion. When Columbus first interacted with them, he was given a popcorn corsage.

Popcorn was part of their culture as they often used it to make necklaces or headdresses or to decorate religious statues. They even threw unpopped popcorn into the fire as a sacrifice to the gods.

Before Balloon Animals Were A Children’s Toy, They Were An Aztec Sacrifice

balloon animal
Photo Credit: Charles Deluvio / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Charles Deluvio / Unsplash

The first balloon animals were also made by the Aztecs, but not for innocent reasons. The Aztecs made their balloon animals out of cat intestines, which they dried out and sewed together.

They would then blow them up, twist them into fun animal shapes, and offer them to their gods. The first real balloon animal didn’t see life until 1939 when the clown Henry Maar made one out of rubber.