What the Ancients Did for Us is a 2005 BBC documentary series presented by Adam Hart-Davis that examines the impact of ancient civilizations on modern society. The series was produced in conjunction with the Open University and is a departure from the previous series not only in that each episode is an hour long rather than half an hour (though heavily edited half-hour versions have also been shown), but also in that it does not concentrate on a single period of history but rather one ancient civilization per episode including the Chinese, the Indians and the Greeks.
Episode five: The Indians
The culture of India has always been closely linked to religion, several world faiths began here, such as Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism, and over the millennia they have all left their imprint on Indian thought.
—Adam Hart Davies
This episode features reports from Darling in India and demonstrations from Hart-Davis, Jopson and other experts that examine the ideas and inventions that emerged from Ancient India.
* Water clocks to regulate Buddhist meditations are discovered by Darling and recreated by Jopson for demonstration.
* Observatories, like the 18th century Jantar Mantar visited by Darling, precisely monitored the sun for more accurate measurements of time.
* Harappan cities, like the 4,000 year old Dholavira visited by Darling, were built to a grid-plan and boasted the world’s first sewage system.
* Arabic numerals, including the number zero discovered by Darling in a 9th century temple, revolutionised modern mathematics.
* Cotton cultivated, woven and coloured with traditional techniques taught to Darling by local workers for export all over the world.
* Metalworking resulted in wonders like the iron pillar visited by Darling and Wootz steel.
* Yoga as demonstrated by Darling developed 4,000 years ago to unite the spiritual and the physical.
* Herbal remedies, using ingredients such as cocoa butter, ginseng and ginger, have been adopted into Western medicine.
* Surgery, including early plastic surgery, developed some 2,500 years ago.
* Inoculation against smallpox, as demonstrated by Davis on Jompson, emerged centuries before Edward Jenner.
* Chess is a simplified version of the ancient Indian game of military strategy chaturanga.
* Rockets demonstrated at the Royal Artillery Museum were first deployed against the British Army by the Tipu Sultan in 1780.