Loading...

Saturday, 29 September 2012


2000-year-old The Baghdad Battery


In 1936, while excavating ruins of a 2000-year-old village near Baghdad, workers discovered mysterious small vase. A 6-inch-high pot of bright yellow clay dating back two millennia contained a cylinder of sheet-copper 5 inches by 1.5 inches. The edge of the copper cylinder was soldered with a 60-40 lead-tin alloy comparable to today's solder. The bottom of the cylinder was capped with a crimped-in copper disk and sealed with bitumen or asphalt. Another insulating layer of asphalt sealed the top and also held in place an iron rod suspended into the center of the copper cylinder. The rodshowed evidence of having been corroded with an acidic agent. The Baghdad Battery, sometimes referred to as the Parthian Battery, is the common name for a number of artifacts created in Mesopotamia, possibly during the Parthian or Sassanid period (the early centuries AD), and probably discovered in 1936 in the village of Khuyut Rabbou'a, near Baghdad, Iraq. These artifacts came to wider attention in 1938 when Wilhelm König, the German director of the National Museum of Iraq, found the objects in the museum's collections. In 1940, König published a paper speculating that they may have been galvanic cells, perhaps used for electroplating gold onto silver objects.[2] This interpretation continues to be considered as at least a hypothetical possibility. If correct, the artifacts would predate Alessandro Volta's 1800 invention of the electrochemical cell by more than a millennium.


An Ancient Battery

German archaeologist , Wilhelm König, examined the object and came to a surprising conclusion that the clay pot was nothing less than an ancient electric battery. 

The ancient battery in the Baghdad Museum

Re-creation of the Baghdad battery
The ancient battery in the Baghdad Museum, as well as those others which were unearthed in Iraq, are all dated from the Parthian occupation between 248 BCE and 226 CE. However, Dr. Konig also found copper vases plated with silver in the Baghdad Museum, excavated from Sumerian sites in southern Iraq, dating back to at least 2500 BCE. When the vases were lightly tapped, a blue patina or film separated from the surface, which is characteristic of silver electroplated onto copper base. It would appear then that the Parthians inherited their batteries from one of the earliest known civilizations.

In 1940, Willard F.M. Gray, an engineer at the General Electric High Volatage Laboratory in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, read of Konig's theory. Using drawings and details supplied by German rocket scientist Willy Ley, Gray made a replica of the battery. Using copper sulfate solution, it generated about half a volt of electricity.
In 1970s, German Egyptologist, Arne Eggebrecht built a replica of the Baghdad battery and filled it with freshly pressed grape juice, as he speculated the ancients might have done. The replica generated 0.87V. He used current from the battery to electroplate a silver statuette with gold.
This experiment proved that electric batteries were used some 1,800 years before their modern invention by Alessandro Volta in 1799. 
It also seems that the use of similar batteries can be safely placed into ancient Egypt, where several objects with traces of electroplated precious metals have been found at different locations. There are several anomalous finds from other regions, which suggests use of electricity on a grander scale. 

The Riddle of "Baghdad's batteries"
Arran Frood investigates what could have been the very first batteries and how these important archaeological and technological artefacts are now at risk from the impending war in Iraq.
I don't think anyone can say for sure what they were used for, but they may have been batteries because they do work   Dr Marjorie Senechal
War can destroy more than a people, an army or a leader. Culture, tradition and history also lie in the firing line.
Iraq has a rich national heritage. The Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel are said to have been sited in this ancient land.
In any war, there is a chance that priceless treasures will be lost forever, articles such as the "ancient battery" that resides defenceless in the museum of Baghdad.
For this object suggests that the region, whose civilizations gave us writing and the wheel, may also have invented electric cells - two thousand years before such devices were well known.
Biblical clues

It was in 1938, while working in Khujut Rabu, just outside Baghdad in modern day Iraq, that German archaeologist Wilhelm Konig unearthed a five-inch-long (13 cm) clay jar containing a copper cylinder that encased an iron rod.


THE KEY COMPONENTS
Batteries dated to around 200 BC Could have been used in gilding

The vessel showed signs of corrosion, and early tests revealed that an acidic agent, such as vinegar or wine had been present.
In the early 1900s, many European archaeologists were excavating ancient Mesopotamian sites, looking for evidence of Biblical tales like the Tree of Knowledge and Noah's flood.
Konig did not waste his time finding alternative explanations for his discovery. To him, it had to have been a battery.
Though this was hard to explain, and did not sit comfortably with the religious ideology of the time, he published his conclusions. But soon the world was at war, and his discovery was forgotten.
Scientific awareness

More than 60 years after their discovery, the batteries of Baghdad - as there are perhaps a dozen of them - are shrouded in myth.
"The batteries have always attracted interest as curios," says Dr Paul Craddock, a metallurgy expert of the ancient Near East from the British Museum.
"They are a one-off. As far as we know, nobody else has found anything like these. They are odd things; they are one of life's enigmas."
No two accounts of them are the same. Some say the batteries were excavated, others that Konig found them in the basement of the Baghdad Museum when he took over as director. There is no definite figure on how many have been found, and their age is disputed.
Most sources date the batteries to around 200 BC - in the Parthian era, circa 250 BC to AD 225. Skilled warriors, the Parthians were not noted for their scientific achievements.
"Although this collection of objects is usually dated as Parthian, the grounds for this are unclear," says Dr St John Simpson, also from the department of the ancient Near East at the British Museum.
"The pot itself is Sassanian. This discrepancy presumably lies either in a misidentification of the age of the ceramic vessel, or the site at which they were found."

Underlying principles

In the history of the Middle East, the Sassanian period (circa AD 225 - 640) marks the end of the ancient and the beginning of the more scientific medieval era.
Though most archaeologists agree the devices were batteries, there is much conjecture as to how they could have been discovered, and what they were used for.
How could ancient Persian science have grasped the principles of electricity and arrived at this knowledge?
Perhaps they did not. Many inventions are conceived before the underlying principles are properly understood.
The Chinese invented gunpowder long before the principles of combustion were deduced, and the rediscovery of old herbal medicines is now a common occurrence.
You do not always have to understand why something works - just that it does.

Enough zap

It is certain the Baghdad batteries could conduct an electric current because many replicas have been made, including by students of ancient history under the direction of Dr Marjorie Senechal, professor of the history of science and technology, Smith College, US.
"I don't think anyone can say for sure what they were used for, but they may have been batteries because they do work," she says. Replicas can produce voltages from 0.8 to nearly two volts.

Making an electric current requires two metals with different electro potentials and an ion carrying solution, known as an electrolyte, to ferry the electrons between them.
Connected in series, a set of batteries could theoretically produce a much higher voltage, though no wires have ever been found that would prove this had been the case.
"It's a pity we have not found any wires," says Dr Craddock. "It means our interpretation of them could be completely wrong."
But he is sure the objects are batteries and that there could be more of them to discover. "Other examples may exist that lie in museums elsewhere unrecognised".
He says this is especially possible if any items are missing, as the objects only look like batteries when all the pieces are in place.

Possible uses

Some have suggested the batteries may have been used medicinally.
The ancient Greeks wrote of the pain killing effect of electric fish when applied to the soles of the feet.
The Chinese had developed acupuncture by this time, and still use acupuncture combined with an electric current. This may explain the presence of needle-like objects found with some of the batteries.
But this tiny voltage would surely have been ineffective against real pain, considering the well-recorded use of other painkillers in the ancient world like cannabis, opium and wine.
Other scientists believe the batteries were used for electroplating - transferring a thin layer of metal on to another metal surface - a technique still used today and a common classroom experiment.
This idea is appealing because at its core lies the mother of many inventions: money.
In the making of jewellery, for example, a layer of gold or silver is often applied to enhance its beauty in a process called gilding.

Grape electrolyte

Two main techniques of gilding were used at the time and are still in use today: hammering the precious metal into thin strips using brute force, or mixing it with a mercury base which is then pasted over the article.
These techniques are effective, but wasteful compared with the addition of a small but consistent layer of metal by electro-deposition. The ability to mysteriously electroplate gold or silver on to such objects would not only save precious resources and money, but could also win you important friends at court.
Let's hope the world manages to resolve its present problems so people can go and see them.      Dr Paul Craddock

A palace, kingdom, or even the sultan's daughter may have been the reward for such knowledge - and motivation to keep it secret.
Testing this idea in the late seventies, Dr Arne Eggebrecht, then director of Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim, connected many replica Baghdad batteries together using grape juice as an electrolyte, and claimed to have deposited a thin layer of silver on to another surface, just one ten thousandth of a millimetre thick.
Other researchers though, have disputed these results and have been unable to replicate them.
"There does not exist any written documentation of the experiments which took place here in 1978," says Dr Bettina Schmitz, currently a researcher based at the same Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum.
"The experiments weren't even documented by photos, which really is a pity," she says. "I have searched through the archives of this museum and I talked to everyone involved in 1978 with no results."

Tingling idols

Although a larger voltage can be obtained by connecting more than one battery together, it is the ampage which is the real limiting factor, and many doubt whether a high enough power could ever have been obtained, even from tens of Baghdad batteries.
One serious flaw with the electroplating hypothesis is the lack of items from this place and time that have been treated in this way.
"The examples we see from this region and era are conventional gild plating and mercury gilding," says Dr Craddock. "There's never been any untouchable evidence to support the electroplating theory."
He suggests a cluster of the batteries, connected in parallel, may have been hidden inside a metal statue or idol.
He thinks that anyone touching this statue may have received a tiny but noticeable electric shock, something akin to the static discharge that can infect offices, equipment and children's parties.
"I have always suspected you would get tricks done in the temple," says Dr Craddock. "The statue of a god could be wired up and then the priest would ask you questions.
"If you gave the wrong answer, you'd touch the statue and would get a minor shock along with perhaps a small mysterious blue flash of light. Get the answer right, and the trickster or priest could disconnect the batteries and no shock would arrive - the person would then be convinced of the power of the statue, priest and the religion."

Magical rituals

It is said that to the uninitiated, science cannot be distinguished from magic. "In Egypt we know this sort of thing happened with Hero's engine," Dr Craddock says.
Hero's engine was a primitive steam-driven machine, and like the battery of Baghdad, no one is quite sure what it was used for, but are convinced it could work.
If this idol could be found, it would be strong evidence to support the new theory. With the batteries inside, was this object once revered, like the Oracle of Delphi in Greece, and "charged" with godly powers?
Even if the current were insufficient to provide a genuine shock, it may have felt warm, a bizarre tingle to the touch of the unsuspecting finger.
At the very least, it could have just been the container of these articles, to keep their secret safe.
Perhaps it is too early to say the battery has been convincingly demonstrated to be part of a magical ritual. Further examination, including accurate dating, of the batteries' components are needed to really answer this mystery.
No one knows if such an idol or statue that could have hidden the batteries really exists, but perhaps the opportunity to look is not too far away - if the items survive the looming war in the Middle East.
"These objects belong to the successors of the people who made them," says Dr Craddock. "Let's hope the world manages to resolve its present problems so people can go and see them."


39 comments:

  1. It's the best time to make some plans for the future and it's time to be
    happy. I've read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read even more things about it!

    Feel free to visit my web site :: visit

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's a pity you don't have a donate button!
    I'd most certainly donate to this outstanding blog! I guess for now i'll settle for book-marking and
    adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I
    look forward to new updates and will talk about this site
    with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

    My homepage :: see more

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or blog posts on this sort of house . Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this website. Reading this information So i'm satisfied to exhibit that I've an incredibly excellent uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I so much no doubt will make sure to do not forget this website and give it a glance on a continuing basis.

    my web site :: Clicking Here

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing a few months of hard work due to
    no back up. Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?



    Feel free to surf to my web-site :: http://9640.ru/link/5630
    Also see my website :: see more

    ReplyDelete
  5. I like it when people get together and share ideas.

    Great website, continue the good work!

    Have a look at my web-site: more
    My page: see More

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very good information. Lucky me I ran across your website
    by chance (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later!

    My page ... Http://uclip.Pro/watch_video.php?V=ka41oyoh9Sg4

    ReplyDelete
  7. I visited several web pages however the audio feature for
    audio songs present at this website is actually fabulous.


    My website :: in adriana

    ReplyDelete
  8. Your style is really unique in comparison to other people I've read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this site.


    My web site ... visit website
    my web site: see more

    ReplyDelete
  9. These are in fact wonderful ideas in concerning blogging.

    You have touched some pleasant things here.
    Any way keep up wrinting.

    Here is my homepage; http://onlymachinesex.com/index.php?own=1904482

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi there every one, here every one is sharing these know-how, so it's good to read this web site, and I used to pay a quick visit this webpage all the time.

    Review my weblog; more

    ReplyDelete
  11. What's up, its pleasant post concerning media print, we all be familiar with media is a impressive source of facts.

    Feel free to surf to my homepage - http://groupsexvirgins.org/index.php?own=2129813

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for some other excellent article. Where else may just anyone get that kind of information in such a
    perfect approach of writing? I've a presentation next week, and I am at the look for such info.

    my website - the Welcome Alani Pi To Hogtied

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ahaa, its fastidious conversation concerning this article
    here at this blog, I have read all that, so now me also commenting at this place.


    Check out my weblog - see more

    ReplyDelete
  14. I every time used to study post in news papers but now as I am a user of internet
    thus from now I am using net for posts, thanks to
    web.

    Look at my blog post :: http://hugedd.com/Index.php?own=2177516

    ReplyDelete
  15. With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright
    violation? My website has a lot of completely unique content I've either created myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my permission. Do you know any solutions to help stop content from being ripped off? I'd definitely appreciate it.


    Here is my website: http://fetishdungeon.org/index.php?own=2498621

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi there, everything is going perfectly here and ofcourse every one is sharing information,
    that's in fact excellent, keep up writing.

    Look into my web blog ... Email Console

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hello, after reading this awesome article i am too delighted to share my know-how here with colleagues.


    Feel free to surf to my web blog http://pornharvest.com/index.php?m=2490723

    ReplyDelete
  18. Remarkable things here. I am very glad to look your article.
    Thank you a lot and I am taking a look forward to touch you.
    Will you please drop me a e-mail?

    Also visit my weblog - tips trik artikel ilmu pengetahuan dan info via internet

    ReplyDelete
  19. bookmarked!!, I like your site!

    Here is my blog post :: burun ameliyati

    ReplyDelete
  20. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.
    I'll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I am quite certain I'll learn plenty of new stuff right here!

    Good luck for the next!

    My site - Chirokinetic Therapy

    ReplyDelete
  21. Please let me know if you're looking for a writer for your site. You have some really good posts and I believe I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd really like to write
    some material for your blog in exchange for a link
    back to mine. Please send me an email if interested. Cheers!


    My web-site: taif university

    ReplyDelete
  22. Good day! I could have sworn I've been to this site before but after reading through some of the post I realized it's new to me.
    Anyhow, I'm definitely glad I found it and I'll be book-marking and checking back frequently!



    Review my website :: http://pornharvest.com/index.php?m=2486940

    ReplyDelete
  23. Can I simply say what a relief to discover someone who actually understands what they're discussing on the net. You definitely realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people must check this out and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you're not more popular
    since you certainly have the gift.

    Feel free to visit my web blog ... directory

    ReplyDelete
  24. Please let me know if you're looking for a writer for your site. You have some really great posts and I feel I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd love to write
    some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please blast me an email if interested. Thank you!


    Also visit my web site Email Console

    ReplyDelete
  25. Amazing! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It's on a completely different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Superb choice of colors!

    Here is my web page - http://www.acps.org/modules.php?name=Your_Account&op=userinfo&username=DanelleWh

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one
    and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam feedback?

    If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you
    can suggest? I get so much lately it's driving me crazy so any assistance is very much appreciated.

    my weblog :: Website

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hurrah! After all I got a website from where I be able
    to actually obtain valuable data concerning my study and knowledge.



    Visit my blog post; conversational tone

    ReplyDelete
  28. Wow! This blog looks just like my old one! It's on a entirely different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Excellent choice of colors!

    Feel free to visit my blog post click here

    ReplyDelete
  29. I am really inspired together with your writing talents as neatly as with the layout in your weblog.
    Is that this a paid topic or did you customize it yourself?
    Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is uncommon to peer a great blog like this one today.
    .

    Here is my web page ... porno website

    ReplyDelete
  30. Howdy! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with
    us so I came to give it a look. I'm definitely loving the information. I'm book-marking and will be tweeting this to
    my followers! Exceptional blog and amazing design and style.


    Feel free to surf to my webpage :: http://linkedinsports.myworkdemos.com/groups/why-people-however-get-porn-website-memberships/

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi there Dear, are you really visiting this web site on a regular basis,
    if so afterward you will without doubt take fastidious experience.


    My web site :: Michael Kors Canada

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi there, all is going fine here and ofcourse every one is
    sharing facts, that's truly fine, keep up writing.

    Feel free to visit my blog http://www.dailymotion.com

    ReplyDelete
  33. Heya! I understand this is somewhat off-topic however I had to ask.

    Does managing a well-established website such
    as yours require a lot of work? I'm brand new to operating a blog however I do write in my diary on a daily basis. I'd like to start a blog so I can share my experience and views online.
    Please let me know if you have any ideas or tips for new aspiring
    blog owners. Thankyou!

    Also visit my blog post; Christian Louboutin UK

    ReplyDelete
  34. excellent publish, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of
    this sector do not realize this. You must continue your writing.
    I am confident, you have a great readers' base already!

    Feel free to visit my website ... microsoft office gratuit

    ReplyDelete
  35. I will right away clutch your rss as I can't to find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you've any?

    Kindly allow me understand so that I may just subscribe.
    Thanks.

    Feel free to visit my weblog :: free pdf

    ReplyDelete
  36. I visited multiple sites but the audio quality for audio songs present at this web page is in fact
    wonderful.

    My weblog; Clicking Here

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hey would you mind sharing which blog platform you're working with? I'm looking to
    start my own blog soon but I'm having a difficult time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for something completely unique.
    P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!


    Feel free to visit my webpage ... Recommended Site

    ReplyDelete
  38. Trying to find the Ultimate Dating Site? Create an account and find your perfect date.

    ReplyDelete
  39. If you want your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (no matter why you broke up) you got to watch this video
    right away...

    (VIDEO) Why your ex will NEVER come back...

    ReplyDelete