There is one most interesting fact about ancient civilizations. It is such an important fact that it sticks in my children's heads during our four year classical education cycle. This year we returned to studying the ancients and there it was again.
In a word, plumbing.
My oldest claims it isn't very important. But if I mention it, she can talk my ear off discussing the details of ancient sanitation. Mesopotamia and the people of the Indus valley had indoor bathrooms! The Romans had running water and public bathrooms! They were so much cleaner than the Europeans during the Middle Ages!
Why is this so fascinating? Why do we picture ancient societies as if we were teenagers smirking at our parents? Did we imagine ancient man squatted behind a tree during a period so rich in art and science? Why wouldn't such learned minds as Imhotep, Pythagoras and Euclid consider such a basic convenience as an indoor toilet? Anyone who has used an outhouse or port-a-potty knows how important indoor plumbing is. It isn't the sort of thing you forget about, since nature calls several times a day. It's a shame that we lost this technology. Often, the innovations of a society have been destroyed by wars, uprisings and conquests. How unfortunate that we had to reinvent the wheel--um, toilet--simply because an ancient civilization was conquered and its inventions laid to waste.
How do we know plumbing wasn't the only wisdom lost from our ancestors? Are there other forms of technology hidden away under desert sands and jungle growth? I admire the archaeologists who spend their lives unlocking the mysteries of the ancients. How exciting to live your life discovering what the world has forgotten!
I'll bet somewhere out there is the technology for harnessing green energy and medical treatments for curing cancer. Maybe they even had noiseless leaf blowers. Pass me a shovel.