Top 10 Ancient Professions Still In Existence

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If you asked most people what the world’s oldest profession is, they’d probably say prostitution, but that’s not actually true. If you consider that if a prehistoric man had the urge, he would simply have his way with a woman, without fear of consequence; it becomes clear why that statement is erroneous. It was only much later on that human sexual relations became regulated, and it was when that happened that prostitution became a profession. Men were no longer able to do as they would, so a new supplier entered the market in response to the demand.

No, it seems we need to look a little closer at ancient life to identify the professions that have endured through the eons. Our modern world did not suddenly spring into being as it was, and it has taken thousands of years of human evolution to bring us to the point at which we find ourselves today.

If any one of the professions of ancient times had not been discovered, or been discovered later, or not pursued, the world as we know it would probably not exist. We would almost certainly have evolved along different lines, and ended up somewhere different.

However, the early professions were not driven by choice, but rather by necessity. For the most part, the careers or professions people chose were of use to the tribe, and to their long term survival, and it was only later that we began to have the luxury of choosing which calling we would like to pursue.

With thanks to those earliest pioneers of technology and knowledge, here is our list of the top ten professions still in existence since ancient times, in no particular order.

10. Doctor


That’s right. Medical, or at least healing professions, have been around since time began. Ever since the first human stumbled across the first herb that aided in healing, humans have been on a quest to cure disease, and heal wounds.

Early evidence has shown that even in prehistoric times, surgery to relieve pressure on the brain were performed, with skulls bearing carefully drilled or cut holes providing testimony to the fact. Early medical professionals assisted with childbirth, tended to battle wounds, and created potions and poultices to treat various diseases and ailments,

Medicine has come a long way, and in the early days, it was more of a case of hit and miss, with medicine men and woman applying their own educated guesses, and the knowledge they’d gathered themselves, to illnesses and wounds, but, since they were primarily healers, before all else, they qualify as medical professionals.

I’m sure, even in the early days that when one had been attacked by a wild beast, or injured in battle with a neighboring clan, that you were glad of the attention of someone more learned than the rest of the tribe to tend to your wounds!

9. Priest


This certainly another of the longest enduring professions. Since we know, from artifacts like the various statuettes to mother earth, dating back to prehistory, that were found in Europe, that people have, since time began, believed in something, whether mother earth, or later the pagan religions, or sun worship in Egypt, among countless others.

Shamans from early tribes looked after the spiritual well being of their flock, albeit using unconventional, by today’s standards, methods such as inducing trances. Their pursuit of knowledge of the afterlife and the mystical made them feared and respected members of their tribes.

However, since their primary function was to serve as a conduit between the mortal world, and the world of the supernatural and spiritual, they can legitimately be called priests, and are therefore on our list.

8. Jeweler


We know, from ancient artifacts unearthed around the world, dating back to prehistory, as well as ancient civilizations, like the Chinese, Egyptian, Roman and Greek, that even when survival was foremost on our collective minds, we liked to adorn ourselves with trinkets.

Whether the earliest stone and bone talismans of prehistoric man, or the more modern gold and precious stone adornments of the great civilizations, jewelery has been a part of our lives since time immemorial. We’ve coveted the beautiful creations of the jeweler for as long as human memory endures, and to this day, there are few that can walk past a jeweler without stopping to look at the shiny, expensive trinkets that glitter in the window.

Since we were so enamored by those pretty, but ultimately useless items, there had to be men who made them, those craftsmen with the skill to create items above the ordinary, and it was they who were the first jewelers. Over the years, they’ve refined their craft, new materials have been discovered, and the advent of mechanization added sub categories such as watchmakers, but their purpose remains the same: to create objects of beauty for adornment and status.

7. Weapons Dealer


It’s a sad fact that while humans have been evolving, we’ve spent a fair amount of time killing each other.

From the earliest days, when weapons were limited to chipped stone arrow tips and axes, there have been those with the skill to create weapons that kill. Of course, millennia ago, when we first began making those weapons, they were used not only to kill each other, but also to hunt the animals that would feed the tribe.

It was only later, once we had tamed the beasts, and become farmers, that weapons became predominantly for use on each other. Of course, even in those earliest days, squabbles broke out between rival tribes, so there are no doubt those weapons were used to shed human blood too.

Perhaps it’s a silent commentary on human nature, but weapons dealers were certainly among the first professionals.

6. Artist


Following hot on the heels of one of our most destructive enduring professions is one of the most creative.

Ever since humans first began standing upright, and became cognizant of the world around us, and our part in it, we have sought to document that interaction, and, in the earliest times, before we had written language to do so, pictures were used to depict great battles, successful hunts, or merely the beauty of the world around us.

Ancient caves, filled with this early art, are dotted around the world, silently providing us insight into the world of our forebears, and this trade has endured through the ages. Museums are filled with objet dating back hundreds, if not thousands of years, each of which provides us some insight into the world of our ancestors, even if only to affirm that while they may have lacked some of our sophistication, they had ample appreciation for beauty.

Since then, art has remained a visual representation of the world around us, and as the world becomes more sophisticated and complex, so too does the work of the artist. Whether for beauty alone, or for social commentary, art will surely continue to endure until the end of the world as we know it.

5. Tailor


At some point after humans became self aware, we realized the usefulness of covering our bodies with the skins of the animals we had hunted.

At first, this was merely for function: to keep out the cold weather of the world only beginning to emerge from the great ice age. Later, however, we began to realize that the clothing we wore could be beautiful, and provide status, as well as showcasing our wealth to the world around us.

Since there were no department stores in those days, where one could pick up a nifty little number, people began to craft their own clothing, attempting to imbue it with some of their own personality, making it a unique reflection of their own style.

Of course, some showed more skill in the art of cutting, stitching and adorning these garments, and it was they who became the earliest tailors, manufacturing clothing for ceremonial purposes and so on, in exchange for items bartered by the people who desired them.

4. Architect and Builder


When we first ventured out into the world, having come down from the trees, and begun walking upright, we realized the necessity of shelter to keep out the harsh elements.

Those first shelters were undoubtedly caves, natural formations providing shelter without the need for construction. However, soon the population began to outgrow the available caves. Some desired to explore other areas, where there were no mountains, and therefore, no caves.

It was then that the professions of architect and builder was first born. While the entire tribe was involved in the creation of their shelters, there were one or two who stood out, for their creative solutions to the problems of creating a tribal home, and it was they who became the first builder’s ad architects.

Of course, the next time that tribe needed to expand their housing or other structures, they turned once more to those who had shown the most ingenuity in their first project.

Through the ages since then, human architects, builders and engineers have achieved many spectacular feats, from the marble cities of Greece and Rome, to the pyramids in Egypt, down through history to the modern world and its sky scrapers. And all the while, the architects and builders have been there.

3. Accountants and Bankers


We know that currency, in its modern form, only came into being much later on, but even so, when out earliest ancestors were still hunting and gathering, someone had to keep track of the tribe’s assets, particularly in terms of their food stores. And since food and other tribal assets were the primary choice for barter, they were, in fact, keeping track of the tribe’s wealth.

We also know that by biblical times, there were money lenders, since they were famously mentioned in the Bible, and other books from the time, so the banking, or at least credit, system were well established by then.

2. Authors


Written language came into being some time after we humans first began to live as an organized society and began speaking, however, in those early days, when there was no TV or any other form of entertainment, long nights spent around the communal fire had to be filled with something.

So the story teller was born. The story teller wove fantastic tales of mystical beasts, great hunts and other entertaining fare, captivating the tribe with their flare for words. Those early tales were carried down through oral tradition, but almost as soon as writing was invented, they began to be captured for eternity through stone carvings, and later on parchment.

It’s doubtful we would know as much as we do about our early ancestors if the writers in those ancient times were not driven by the need to immortalize their lives in script, and even though they wrote ordinary tales of daily life for the most part, they were nonetheless authors.

1. Musicians


Another enduring art from our earliest days is that of the musician. Sometime after we first emerged from the woods and began our journey to the top of the food chain, one of those cave dwellers picked up two sticks and began beating them together in rhythm. The first percussion instrument was born.

As soon as people realized that they could make rhythmic music, they began experimenting, devising drums, shakers and other instruments, and soon after, they probably had the very first band in existence.

A far cry from the modern rock concert, but still, enough to get the tribe on their feet – dancing and chanting around the campfire.

Since then, we’ve learned to created wind instruments, and those with strings. Great composers have crafted timeless symphonies, and we’ve learnt to apply electricity to instruments, amplifying the sound to fill enormous stadiums, but still, the impact of music on the human soul remains as primitive as it was in those early days. Music has the power, even without words, to stir emotion. To evoke sadness or joy. It speaks to that primal part of us that remains, unchanged, from ancient days.