What is indigenous technology? [Ancient Knowledge]

What is indigenous technology? [Ancient Knowledge]
Posted At: March 26, 2023 2:31 PMViews: 77Category: Technology

There are two types of knowledge and technology today, generally speaking: indigenous and scientific.

The term ‘science' dates from the 16th century, whereas the term ‘scientist' dates from the 19th century. 

It signifies that prior to the scientific revolution, all knowledge and technology were indigenous.

What is indigenous technology?

what is indigenous technology?

Indigenous technology is an ancient technique of utilizing natural resources that have existed in diverse regions of the world and are still relevant and widespread today.

Indigenous technology is a concept that is sometimes misinterpreted.

This isn't indigenous peoples using technology for their own gain.

It refers to the different ways in which indigenous knowledge is applied to improve human lives.

Example of indigenous technology

An example of indigenous technology is the old farming system which requires organic and natural interventions. 

Traditional agricultural outputs such as cow dung and biomass waste were used to provide natural and organic renewable sources.

organic cow dung and straw fertilizer
organic cow dung and straw fertilizer
Bio gas plant as indigenous technology
Bio gas plant to produce energy from bio wastages

People used to grow and eat food in the past without using any fertilizers and pesticides.

A plant spray was made from cow urine, yogurt, milk, and ghee (clarified butter) which replaces synthetic pesticides and foliar sprays that have significant negative environmental consequences.

Indigenous technology setbacks

Indigenous technical knowledge (ITK) is passed down from generation to generation and relates to the art of harnessing natural resources.

ITK techniques are farmer-friendly, cost-effective, socially acceptable, climate-adaptable, and environmentally sound.

Considering their usefulness, ITK methods are often overlooked or dismissed under the guise of being unscientific.

indigenous technology setbacks

However, anything unexplained is not always unscientific, and dismissing ITK on the grounds that it is unscientific is not justified.

Indigenous techniques may have flaws and issues, but it's important to remember that people have lived in the past under extreme conditions by relying on their knowledge.

This information is frequently lost or overlooked in today's technologically advanced world.

Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of these techniques will contribute to the advancement of existing knowledge in these areas.

We may utilize them to make the required changes and improvements.

How many indigenous technologies exist on the planet?

Both physical and cultural settings differ greatly over the world.

Hydrology, Ecology, Geology, Botany, and other components of the environment are naturally learned in different ways by people who live in diverse physical situations.

Diverse social environments, meanwhile, create divergent viewpoints and methods of thinking about distinct areas of knowledge.

Nepalese style pottery-making in Bhaktapur
Nepalese-style pottery making in Bhaktapur

As a result, people's acquired knowledge in one area of the world often includes special knowledge that is not present in the bodies of knowledge possessed by communities in other parts of the world.

People in various nations have diverse perspectives on the same topic.

Every country around the globe has its own style, culture, tradition, cuisine, and a variety of other characteristics.

Let's imagine a country has 20 different ethnic groups; this would inevitably result in diverse strategies for each tribe.

One tribe may specialize in ten distinct techniques, resulting in a total of 200 indigenous technologies in a single nation. 

Can you imagine the entire planet if we count every indigenous technology that exists?

Wow. Isn't it?

The above-mentioned figures are just assumptions. 

It can be way much more than this.

It would be impossible to count everything and we would undoubtedly be surprised.

Yet, so-called, 21st-century humans know nothing about it. 

It's a shame because we are not preserving the ancient knowledge through which we evolved.

Indigenous technology today

There are numerous examples of indigenous knowledge-based technologies that are being implemented and used today.

Medical methods for health management like acupuncture and Unani are instances of indigenous technologies on a far broader and deeper social scale.


Speaking about my country Nepal, there are so many indigenous technologies that people are still using.

Due to its geographical variety and numerous ethnic populations, Nepal has a wealth of traditional skills and techniques.

Since ancient times, all of these cultures have had some form of traditional wisdom related to their lives.

Traditional water management technology is widely used in the management of natural water resources, including irrigation, grinding procedures, drinking water sources management, milling, and diversion channels.

Soil fertility management activities like mulching, using nitrogen-fixing plants, using forest soil and black soils, terrace riser slicing, capturing flood water for fertilizing, crop rotation, burning rubbish, burying dead animals, fallowing, and mobile toilets are widely practiced all over the country.

Traditional dishes are prepared using indigenous techniques and locally accessible components. Traditional cuisine differs from place to place here in Nepal.

A good and relevant example is also the use of the prolific and versatile neem tree in a wide range of rural sustainability activities such as health and agriculture.

Turmeric has been used by people over ages for health and medicinal benefits. It is also widely used in Ayurvedic medicine.

Aside from that, there are traditional building methods, agricultural implements, handicraft production, stone sculpture, traditional metal craft, bio fence, and so on.

Why should we promote indigenous technology?

why should we promote indigenous technology?

  • The development of such technologies creates an environment conducive to learning. 
  • More people will be encouraged to perform focused research on it. 
  • It aids underdeveloped nations' technical advancement. Such countries experience economic development as a result of this.
  • Imported technology is substantially more expensive than indigenous technology. The less fortunate can enjoy the conveniences of contemporary luxuries.
  • The utilization of community resources decreases the need for importing commodities and advanced technologies.
  • It generates new job opportunities. The tool design, procedure, and manufacture are done entirely inside the country by the residents of that region.
  • It can be utilized to satisfy the special demands of a group of individuals in a particular area. People's quality of life will improve as a result of this.
  • The use of local knowledge and resources makes it environmentally friendly, affordable,  and sustainable.
  • It will serve as the foundation for future developments too.


Indigenous technologies are still commonly employed in rural regions with inadequate infrastructure.

Modern people are unaware of it, and it is at the risk of extinction as we increasingly rely on advanced technology.

We should all be aware of our old tools and skills since they have several advantages.

The use of indigenous technology may also offer crucial socio-cultural capital for communities to not only survive, but also prosper, within the constraints of their geography, environment, culture, and economy.

Therefore, we all should promote our indigenous technology so that our future generations would also gain insight into how our ancestors used to live in the past before the scientific revolution. 

Bishal Khadka

Author : Bishal Khadka