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Ancient Technology

Ancient Batteries of Babylon That Will Change The Way You Think Forever

Ancient Batteries of Babylon That Will Change The Way You Think Forever.
In 1938, Dr. Wilhelm Kong, an Austrian archaeologist rummaging through the basement of the museum, made a find that was to drastically alter all our concepts of “ancient knowledge.”

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 rod showed evidence of having been corroded with an acidic agent. With a background in mechanics, Dr. Konig recognized this configuration was not a chance arrangement – the clay pot was nothing less than an ancient electric 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 a copper base. It would appear then that the Parthians inherited their batteries from one of the earliest known civilizations.

Several years ago, a theory was proposed that electrolyte-crushed wine grapes may have been used. It was put to the test with a positive result – a replica of the Baghdad cell generated 0.87V. Several cells, in a serial arrangement, were sufficient for the electroplating of small objects.

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 the use of electricity on a grander scale.

One of them is the girdle from the tomb of Chinese general Chu (265-316 CE), which is made from an alloy of 85% aluminum with 10% copper and 5% manganese. The only viable method of production of aluminum from bauxite is an electrolytic process, after alumina (aluminum chloride component of the ore) is dissolved in molten cryolite, patented in the middle of last century.

Needless to say, the Baghdad type of batteries would not suffice, for quite a substantial dynamo-generated current is needed.