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For instance, a hot air balloon is really pretty simple; I suspect that even thousands of years ago, it would have been possible to make - steam engines existed in 1AD, after all.

So, just how far back can you go, and still have the tech available to carry a human hundreds of feet into the air? Could the romans have made one? How about the stone age cavedwellers? Once you can tan skin, you can make a balloon, and hot air just needs a fire...

But what about directed flight? Balloons just drift; how much more technology do you need to build something that will push you through the air, in the direction you want to go? Have an ancient civilisations built such a thing, or even the components needed to do so?

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closed as too broad by StephenG, We are Monica., Frostfyre, Cyn says make Monica whole, Kyyshak Mar 19 at 23:20

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ 1AD? Can I have a source on that? $\endgroup$ – Piomicron Mar 19 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ Technology and the application of that technology are different. I'm guessing you've heard "necessity is the mother of invention" It makes sense for a lot of reasons, if you don't have a need to fly, you're not going to figure out how to do so. You seem to already know what technology is required, tanning, ropes, heat and a way to bring them together. Those techs have existed for a really really long time...there was no need for flight nor was there an understanding that the techs could be used to fly...that all comes with time and scientific understanding. $\endgroup$ – James Mar 19 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ I don’t suppose throwing a man off a hundred foot tall cliff counts? Or the story of Icarus?? $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Mar 19 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ "How early in our time line could tech X have been implemented?" is a regular question here. Such questions are difficult to answer because "X" did not happen, which suggests it could not happen. Obviously something could occur a few years earlier, but decades? Centuries? Millennia? Any tech stands atop a pyramid of experience, education, and innovation, and you're asking how far back along that mountain the tech could have occurred. Regrettably, it's very hard to know without understanding even the politics and sociology during the path of development. Do you have a specific time in mind? $\endgroup$ – JBH Mar 19 at 22:47
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    $\begingroup$ Re the hard-science tag be aware that using that flag moves your question from "suggest plausible" to "prove scientifically" and for your questions it's totally inappropriate as a tag. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Mar 20 at 2:28