Babylon Batteries

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Babylon Battery"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]

[1] Photos from http://acs.madonna.edu/~8781/tour01.html and information from http://atlantisrising.com/issue5/ar5topten.html