Courtesy Constantino Reyes
Azul Maya resists all sorts of weather

Learn from ancient civilisations

5000 years before our medicine, “The Egyptians founded cardiology! They treated their patients with a scientific approach” states Bernard Ziskind, cardiologist and specialist in Egyptian medicine. “The state of the knowledge hasn’t evolved between them and Harvey, this XVIIth century English doctor who understood that the heart functioned as pomp”.

Polynesians have peopled the islands dispersed in Oceania thanks to their very sophisticated navigation techniques. This art, based on the sun and the stars, was transmitted only through initiation. “The real secret of Polynesians was that they mastered an astonishing number of parameters: the color of the water, its temperature, its saltiness, the form of the waves, the seaweeds, the fish, clouds, the wind, the birds, the swells, the currents… absolutely everything you can see, feel or hear when on the sea” decodes Emmanuel Desclèves, vice-amiral and member of the Marine Academy.

To feed the 150 000 inhabitants of the town of Tenochtitlan (today’s Mexico), Azteces built small islands 3 to 4 meters square on the lake Texcoco. They immersed layers of braided rushes from bottom to top of the lake and grew cereals, fruit and vegetables. Started around 1345, these ecosystems, called chinampas, are still present in Mexico city.

The Mayan civilizations, around year 800, created the first nanomaterial: a blue pigment that keeps all its beauty throughout the centuries thanks to its mixture of clay and vegetal indigo.  30 years of research were needed for the geologist Hendrick van Olphen to understand the process of fabricating azul maya. This process could open new ecological routes for today’s industries.

All these inventions, and so many others, are still outstanding. So, dear Future Shapers, which civilization can inspire you? And how would you transmit your knowhow so that a grand number of people can benefit from it?

NB : This article was inspired by a special edition of de Sciences et Avenir « Ce que savaient les civilisations disparues » Janvier 2014

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Marie-Claire Le Reun
Marie-Claire Le Reun
Innovation Consultant-Coach and Head of Le Creativ' Center
Le Creativ Center

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