Early man was worried about many things, but one concern was their fear of dying of thirst, as man can only survive a few days without water. Living in groups made it necessary for man to devise ways to measure water because they had to share the resource and they would only be allowed to drink so much, as the rest of the tribe needed this substance to survive. Early man learned how to share handfuls of water with the rest of the tribe and this was probably how primitive man first measured a defined volume of liquid. When early man was near a stream or lake and they got thirsty, they bent down and cupped their hands to drink water, and they stopped drinking when their thirst was met.
Ancient man used animal skins for clothing and they learned that skins could be used to hold liquids. The first receptacles that were used for water drinking vessels were probably made from the hides of goats. This invention allowed early man to tote water with them when they journeyed away from their villages. Around 8000 BC, people in the Middle East started making pottery. They had made baskets before which were useful for gathering, but they could not hold liquids. They built bonfires to heat clay to high temperatures so all the water would be removed from the clay which caused it to fuse together giving it strength as it hardened and setting the shape. These pots were undecorated and expendable, they were created simply as a means to transport liquids, and sometimes were only used once and then they were disposed of. Earthenware drinking vessels eventually replaced skins for drawing and holding water, once man discovered the art of making pottery. Our ancestors eventually learned how to trade goods or services and this made it necessary for man to develop standards. Over time standard size cups and bowls to hold water came as a result of this and that made it more convenient to drink, sell and trade according to liquid volume.
The Minoan Civilization in Crete that flourished from 2700 BC to 1450 BC became aware of certain technologies relevant to water. Numerous very advanced and wonderful water and wastewater systems, including aqueducts, cisterns, filtering systems, rainfall-harvesting systems, terracotta pipes for water supply, fountains, baths, sewers, and toilets were available in several Minoan palaces. The palace had at least three separate sophisticated liquid management systems, one for supply, one for drainage of runoff, and one for drainage of waste water.
As early as 1500 BC, the earliest known clarifying apparatus was invented by the ancient Egyptians as they discovered the principle of coagulation. To clarify water, the Egyptians reportedly used the chemical alum to cause suspended particles to settle out of water. Once the impurities settled, the top layer of liquid was siphoned off using wick siphons and then the purified water was stored for later use.
Around 585 BC, Thales of Miletus, a Greek philosopher, proposed that water was the fundamental substance of the Universe. Thales observed water being plentiful everywhere, contained in the soil beneath us and in the air above and even plants and animals contain water. Thales saw how water was transformed in its three phases (solid, liquid and gas) which made him belief that all things come from water. Around 400 BC, Democritus of Abdera another Greek philosopher could explain all facets of everything in existence within the physical world. He knew that the water atoms continually roll over one another creating a liquid form. Aristotle was one of the earliest writers to specifically mention underground rivers, and he believed that springs originated from rainfall. He said, “Experiment has taught us that sea-water when converted into vapor becomes potable, and the vaporized product, when condensed, no longer resembles sea-water. Wine and all liquids, when vaporized, turn into water.”
Written for FOWC with Fandango – Liquid.