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Sunday, August 21, 2016

World's earliest Battery

This Jar like device is the world's earliest record of Battery “The Parthian Battery” invented by the Iranians as early as 250 BC. In a dramatic excavation by the German Archaeologist Wilhelm Konig three intact jars dating back to the Parthian empire were discovered; later reconstructions and testing of this ancient device in western laboratories has revealed that when the jar of the battery was filled with vinegar (or other electrolytes) it was capable of generating between 1.5-2.0 volts; this pill, according to the expert who studies it, was used for electropolating; the pill is also more commonly known as the Baghdad Battery because it was discovered in vicinity of Baghdad city, the Ancient capital of the Iranian Parthian empire; (Bagh-dad itself is a Persian word meaning God-given)
Batteries of Babylon
"In 1938, Dr. Wilhelm Kong, an Austrian archaeologist rummaging through the basement of the museum made a find that was to drastically alter all concepts of ancient science. 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 best 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 acid. Schematic of Babylon BatteryWith a background in mechanics, Dr. Konig recognized this configuration was not a chance arrangement, but that 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 all date from the Parthian Persian occupation between 248 B.C. and A.D. 226. However, Konig found copper vases plated with silver in the Baghdad Museum excavated from Sumerian remains in southern Iraq dating back to at least 2500 B.C. When the vases were lightly tapped a blue patina or film separated from the surfaces, characteristic of silver electroplated to copper. It would appear then that the Persians inherited their batteries from the earliest known civilization in the Middle East."[1]I

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.