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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2008-12-03 05:43
Subject: [help] Thinking about old things
Security: Public
Tags:cool, help, tech

Apropos of nothing in particular, does anybody have any idea what the oldest continuously maintained system on Earth is?

I’m thinking Chinese canals, Roman waterworks or bridges, and so forth; but the answer could be some more social or political, I suppose. The hierarchy of Judaism, for example.

Heck, does anyone want to take a shot at refining the question?

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-12-03 13:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Right, but they're not in use today...whereas some Roman engineering is still in use, for example.
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manmela
User: manmela
Date: 2008-12-03 13:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The answer is probably something from religion, but an old one I know is that the gauge used on railways here in the UK can be traced back to Roman times. Might be an urban myth but it's apparently the same axle-span as a Roman Chariot.

A lot of roads here are also built on old Roman roads
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Lawrence M. Schoen
User: klingonguy
Date: 2008-12-03 13:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ritual circumcision, anyone?
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Jay Lake: jay-electrode
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-12-03 14:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:jay-electrode
That always has me in a turmoyel.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
Stone of stumbling and rock of offense: old
User: wordweaverlynn
Date: 2008-12-03 14:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:old
Hmm, what about the Chinese and Jewish calendars? Although they don't require much maintenance, they're human systems that have been in use for thousands of years.
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theresamather
User: theresamather
Date: 2008-12-03 14:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There's a candidate 20 miles from my home, a solar calendar system involving cairns, petroglyphs and natural landscape features that is estimated to be 9000 years old, built by the Fremont culture originally. The fact that the Paiute Indians apparently knew what it was in the 1800's suggest ongoing use. There are solstice gatherings at the site with an astronomer and tribal elder, I've been and it's pretty impressive (albeit chaotic with all the people). The calendar charts even note leap year, lunar cycles and track Venus.

http://www.parowangap.org/
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dionysus1999
User: dionysus1999
Date: 2008-12-03 14:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I would hazard there are small ancient communities that have unbroken records of agricultural systems that continue until today. The Basques come to mind.
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torreybird
User: torreybird
Date: 2008-12-03 15:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
genetic engineering of dogs?
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Bibbit
User: bridget_coila
Date: 2008-12-03 15:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There is a 2000 year old irrigation system still in use down in Sichuan- I remember reading that the earthquake damaged it but its still running nonetheless.

Also, in XinJiang there is a market that has been operating over 2000 years-it once was part of the Silk Road- they apparently sell everything from piles of random food to modern goods to horses (horse traders come from Siberia, Mongolia, etc). They also sell really tasty almonds. (Justin brought me some)

I guess the definition/refinement of the question also matters... I mean, you could consider something like "cooking" to be the oldest continually maintained system if you looked at it the right way. (Even in the sense of a particular type of cooking culture- XinJiang cuisine has pretty much been mutton-on-a-stick over low coals sold by vendors on the side of the road for a few thousand years.)

Oh- almost forgot one- last year the Chinese govt abolished the agricultural tax that had existed for 5000 years in various forms (the latest one was basically the same for the last 2600 years). So agricultural taxation would be a suggestion- except, it doesnt exist anymore as of 2007.
B


Edited at 2008-12-03 03:52 pm (UTC)
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Erin Cashier
User: therinth
Date: 2008-12-03 16:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Maybe i'm odd but...migration patterns for birds and certain insects never seem to change.

Not that they maintain them, in any way other than genetic, but --
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bram452
User: bram452
Date: 2008-12-03 16:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You seem to be limiting it to maintained by the conscious will of human beings, yes? Because biological homeostasis is pretty much going to win otherwise.
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G. D. Falksen
User: squirrelmadness
Date: 2008-12-03 16:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I would guess that it is probably the Hindu caste system, or the Hindu religion in general. It's often forgotten that Hinduism is the oldest major religion still in practice.
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desperance
User: desperance
Date: 2008-12-03 17:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Not so much forgotten as not known, in this house. Until now. Thank you!
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
desperance
User: desperance
Date: 2008-12-03 17:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Now, I read that as "barcraft". The practice of serving drinks. That goes back a way...
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
User: clowe
Date: 2008-12-03 17:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was just about to suggest some form of hunting and gathering. We still use farming techniques developed thousands of years ago, especially in regards to irrigation. However, if you're talking structural or an actual object still in use, then I have no clue. The previously mentioned Roman sewage system is a good educated guess.
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Bob
User: yourbob
Date: 2008-12-03 17:56 (UTC)
Subject: shooting the breeze
"process" system?
Genetic engineering. From domesticating animals and crops when we didn't know about man-made selection to didling with genes.

"artificial-physical" system?
Architecture? The building of things.

"artifical-non-physical" system?
Burial ritual? Grave digger being one of the oldest non-survival-related professions?
Religion? Probably beats grave digger by a few years.
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martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2008-12-03 18:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
death and taxes...

death rituals, and of course, any system of taxes/offerings/extortion.

Even the Neanderthals put flowers in their burials.
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