In ancient Rome, social appearance and respectability were everything. The most hated men were punished with damnatio memoriae, damnation of memory. Every trace that a person had ever lived was removed. Busts were shattered, freizes were marred, records were struck. Any sign of the hated figure was destroyed.
The Chinese, when attacking a castle or fort, flew kites over the city wall and used the length of string it took to get it there as a measurement to know how far they had to dig a tunnel to get under the wall.