Oldest technology still in use and essentially unchanged

Discounting those “simple machines” we learn about in Basic Science classes as kids and excluding things like fire, air, earth, water, and stuff that was more discovered than invented, what tool, implement, device, contraption or the like has survived longest with least alteration since the earliest days of mankind?

What devices came into existence while you’ve been alive but are as useful today as they were when introduced and have basically been left unchanged in form and structure?

“Simple Machines” that I can recall:

Inclined Plane

What am I leaving out of that group?

Anyway, things that seem to satisfy the basic conditions would include:

Knives (even though they have certainly been modified in shape and construction)
Fish hooks
What can you add?

Ways to start fire without matches, although you’d think it was a lost science if you watched Survivor.


The ancient system of aqueducts to transport water via gravity is still very similar to water towers supplying a community via gravity.

My understanding is that needles-and-thread is Neolithic technology. The main differences now are the material that the needle and thread are made from.

The mouse trap is old.

I failed to mention rope and its variants like thread, string, twine, etc., but I suspect that its use goes even further back than archeologists can verify from digs since it’s biodegradable in most situations. Back when I was into knots and macrame’ as a hobby, it was something that crossed my mind a lot.

Tying knots and related crafts would have to go way back. That, obviously, leads to the invention of fabrics of all sorts.

Sorry, but I didn’t see your post while I was mentioning rope. Same basic concept, wouldn’t you say?

The Ice Cream Scoop.


Not the same concept or uses. I am thinking more of the needle than of the thread. The technology of the needle came about as a solution to a separate problem from the problems that rope alleviated.

Man-made vine rope may well be older than fishbone needles, though.

I don’t know if that fits under the requirements of the OP. Someone is always building a better one.

I’d say fermentation and wheel… these are quite old and still used in more or less the same way.

The knife.

Even if you stick something dull in your enemy’s eye, you’re still operating under the same principle: poke holes in bad guy.

Although, I guess that the club is older than the knife. So I’m going to change my answer to “club.”

Well, this is newer than most responses but still pretty amazing to me - you know those wheels you sometimes see cheap-ass surveyors using? According to the TV, that’s the same thing they used to survey the Pyramids.

Cooking over a open fire.

I’m gonna go for the ever-popular ‘wrapping stuff up and carrying it around’.
'Tis but a short step from the big leaf full of seeds or meat to the modern grocery bag.

Excellent choice. If we expand that to “containers” in general, it’s even more obvious. Boxes, bags, chests, and even the conveyances like travois, buggies, wagons, sleds, all could fit into this category.

Not quite up there with a basket, but the canoe has got to be up there.

Oh! and the fish hook.

How about dice?

Your basic, 6-sided cube. Still in use, essentially unchanged.