Much of permaculture is seeing old ways of doing things with new eyes, and sometimes mixing and matching from different parts of the world. Why reinvent the wheel? This is one more bit of data to put in your bag.
I like your post, Mick, and agree with your premise about useful traditional/basic designs. Somewhere here on Permies, I and others posted in a thread about traditional Chinese wheelbarrows and modern variants on the essential design. Edit (found it): Trad Wheelbarrow
I've posted about various simple homemade devices & tools, for instance in the Gear forum where I started a thread, Small Gadgets Also, I followed the lead of some others and posted things to the "My re-use projects... and yours" thread (in the Frugality forum).
There's nothing wrong and often much that's right about ancient or old, same with "homemade". I'd like to see more of these kinds of things here on Permies.
My online educational sites:
Way back when, I was working at a resort in the Pocono Mtns and would stroll thru the woods. One day I came across a small building maybe 12x15 that contained a shiny brass array of something I couldn't figure out. Years later I figured out it was an electric power plant driven by a small stream that no longer ran thru the building. What I remember about the channel was that it was only maybe 2 feet wide by maybe 12 inches deep. There were old timey spring driven grease fittings in glass scattered over the apparatus.