This new display traces the roots of Israeli innovation back to ancient Near East cultures in the area known as the cradle of civilization. The modern State of Israel stands at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship in many fields and, over the ages, the ancient Near Eastern region has also seen radical developments and innovation, borne by the concept that “necessity is the mother of all inventions.”
Participants on the tour will discover ancient inventions, developments and innovations that changed the course of history, together with amazing contemporary Israeli inventions revolutionizing today's world, centring on six main subjects.
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1. Information: Systematically preserving and organizing information - the development of writing
A clay tablet bearing an administrative certificate from the fourth millennium BCE will teach us about the Mesopotamian cuneiform and the development of writing. Writing arose with the administrative need to document expanding economic activity. The invention of script was a game-changer for many cultures, and enabled trading and the management of large enterprises. The ability to document events in writing led to the preservation of a unified, collective memory as opposed to a changing oral tradition.
Israeli company Ringya has developed a free mobile application that offers a solution for creating and sharing contact details. The app allows users to convert a physical contact list into an ordered list of searchable and shareable cell phone contacts. The app also allows users to see who’s calling them, and view useful additional details about the caller.
The now-ubiquitous USB flash drive was developed by Israeli company M-Systems, headed by Dov Moran, in order to meet a similar need for preservation and mobility of information in the modern era. This technology is used not only for the physical transfer of information via mobile devices, but also provides the technology that underpins much of modern technology in use today, including in cellular phones, tablets, etc.
2. The Urban Revolution: Residential and food solutions for growing populations
A dedication brick made of burnt clay tells the story of the great Mesopotamian cities in the fourth millennium BCE, cities that housed thousands of residents. The original houses in the Mesopotamia area were built of cane, while the main buildings were built of burnt mud bricks, readily available raw materials.
This brick was used for the foundation stone dedication, when the first brick was laid. The ceremony symbolized the beginning of construction of the temples built by Mesopotamian kings, just like cornerstone laying ceremonies we know today.
While the role of cities in the urbanization process was to protect inhabitants from natural and human dangers, and provide citizens with sources of food and livelihood, modern urbanization actually deals with the opposite problems. Dense and crowded modern cities are more commonly afflicted by a lack of green areas and nature, and inhabitants find themselves surrounded by mases of people, air pollution, traffic jams, and congestion, and alienated from nature and one another.
MOBI develops systems for management, planning and traffic control designed to solve, or at least facilitate the easing of, the traffic congestion characteristic of urban centers. Various information sources, such as data from smartphones and from sensors installed at strategic points, provide accurate data, allowing decision makers and policy makers to set traffic policies, prioritize traffic based on different vehicle types, the situation on the ground, and previous situations. The company’s traffic behavior prediction relies on analysis of past and existing data, and forecasts traffic jams few hours before they occur. Consequently, it can adapt solutions in real time and prevent or reduce traffic congestion. In an ideal autonomous future, Mobi will determine the route of vehicles from one point to another, without driver involvement.
3. Water: Development of civilizations around rivers
Meet the largest bronze statue ever found of Ba’al, the Canaanite thunder and storm god. Learn of the meaning of water, the Nile in Egypt, the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in Mesopotamia, and the seasonal rains, as a crucial factor in shaping life in the ancient world.
Millennia later, Israel’s arid climate and lack of water have motivated Israelis to become global pioneers in the field of water technologies. Irrigation systems using dripping pipes are well-known. There are other, less famous examples of Israeli ingenuity, such as Fluence Israel, which uses a biological process to economically purify sewage and convert it into irrigation water.
Sewage purification is performed through a sewage treatment plant or oxidation ponds to enable the repeated use of water for agricultural purposes. The oxidation phase leads to the development of bacterial colonies that decompose the sewage into liquids and sludge. Fluence Israel devised a revolutionary method that enables up to 90% energy saving by using a permeable membrane on which bacteria grow rapidly. This process greatly accelerates the process of wastewater oxygenation without the investment of additional energy.
4. Health: Treating the sick
Ancient cultures explained natural phenomena, illness and death as disasters derived from supernatural powers such as gods, demons, and evil spirits. In other cultures, people sought to deal with the world’s challenges through worshipping God through prayers, offerings and sacrifices.
Amulets of Pazuzu, the king of demons, demonstrate another perspective on dealing with disease. Pazuzu was thought to frighten away other evil spirits, therefore protecting humans against plagues and misfortunes. As such, amulets in his image were used to protect mothers and babies from the wounds of various demons and evil spirits.
Now Professor Hossam Haick at the Technion in Haifa is currently developing the electronic nose; Innovative technology for diagnosing diseases based on breath samples. The goal of the system, currently under development, is rapid and non-invasive diagnosis of cancer and other diseases based on patients’ breath samples. Data is transferred from the system via mobile phone to an information processing system which decodes the data, produces results, and makes additional recommendations to doctors.
5. Environment: Storing products and food
From our very first moments, each of us leaves an "ecological footprint" on the environment. Many years ago, humans exploited the natural resources in their immediate vicinity - minerals, metals, vegetation and more. Humans used stone tools, flints for storage, hunting, and more, but soon discovered the technology of making clay, the first organic material produced by humans. Since the material is common and easy to obtain, pottery was inexpensive to manufacture and used in many different cultures, each culture using pottery for its own purposes and decorating it according to local cultural characteristics.
The development of ceramic implements enabled the production of cheap tools which in turn facilitated the trade and transit of goods and goods as well as being a source of merchandise in of themselves. In the contemporary world we have developed inexpensive packaging from raw materials - plastic. We know that millennia ago, disused pottery would be “reused”, as people wrote on fragments of broken pottery called ostraca. Many of these can be found throughout the ancient Near East.
Nowadays a different approach is taken, as companies work on producing packaging and tools that reduce our “environmental footprint.” Israeli company TIPA is a new venture offering innovative packing technology made of advanced biodegradable material which returns to its organic state within 24 weeks.
6. Space: Understanding the universe around us
The last stop will be dedicated to humanity’s constant ambitions to explore, deepen and better understand our surroundings. Astronomy, the study of celestial bodies and cosmic phenomena, is an ancient branch of the natural sciences. In ancient times, astronomy included observations and predictions about the motion of planets and stars visible to the naked eye. These observations were used for agricultural and religious purposes, to predict the seasons and set calendars.
In our new exhibition “Out of the Blue”, we encounter a papyrus copy of the Egyptian sky goddess Not. One of the most important Egyptian astronomical texts, the Book of the Not, was a collection of ancient Egyptian texts predicting astral events such as the rise of the Sirius star that marked the beginning of the Egyptian calendar and the Nile’s flood season. Later we see the Israeli flag given to the President of the United States. This flag was taken into space by American astronauts on the Apollo-Soyuz space flight, the first and only joint U.S.–Soviet space flight. Israel’s space program is among the most impressive aspects of the country’s much-lauded high-tech industry, and boasts a long, successful history of space exploration, including the development of advanced, competitive technologies, applications and products.
An innovative project by Israeli company SpacePharma enables scientists to conduct scientific experiments in space to test the effects of zero-gravity conditions. Zero-gravity constitutes an optimal environment free of foreign influences on materials, allowing results to be obtained faster than in laboratory conditions.
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