Did you know that ancient people used batteries for various purposes? If not, then you have to read ahead. Today, we are going to look at strange antiquity called the Baghdad battery. The Baghdad battery is a 2000-year-old battery which is capable of producing electricity or at least thought to have until it was put to test. It was not until 200 years ago in 1800 that the modern-day batteries were invented just by Alessandro Volta. But unfortunately, history books are wrong and they hide facts about ancient technology.
So let’s go back about 82 years ago and see how the Baghdad battery was first found. In 1938, a German archaeologist called Wilhelm König found a dozen jars in Khujut Rabu, just outside modern day Baghdad which is now the capital of Iraq.
Now, these jars were about 13 cms tall and they had a very distinct setup. The clay jars contained a copper cylinder a copper foil rolled up to form a cylinder and the core of the clay jar, there was an iron rod put inside. They had used bitumen or asphalt to make a stopper to make sure that the iron rod did not touch the copper cylinder. It is a really special setup, and the whole metal assembly was placed inside the clay jar. And here is the most interesting thing, these jars had traces of grape juice, wine and even vinegar inside them, and these metals showed serious signs of corrosion, because of the wine or grape juice.
Here, copper would have acted as a positive terminal, and iron as a negative terminal and finally, grape juice as an electrolyte. Believe it or not, just as you add grape juice, you can hear the chemical reaction initiating. This is the same idea that Galvani invented 2,000 years later and that Volta successfully perfected to invent the first modern battery a few years later.
But just hearing sounds of the reaction won’t prove that these batteries work. But if you hook this battery with a voltmeter you will find that this battery can produce at least 1 volt. As it produces some charge, it suggests that it is a battery beyond any doubt which is capable of producing electricity.
What was it used for?
Well, all said and done the least we can do is give credit to the ancients for creating something so amazing. But Victorian scholars think otherwise. Although today, mainstream archaeologists believe this artifact to be a battery they still feel that it was of no use. With an insignificant charge, the applicability of these batteries is questioned in the mainstream.
But think in this way. Let’s say ancients who built these batteries were technologically much advanced than we give credit for and could use negligible charge or combine many batteries to do a lot of things such as lighting a bulb, electroplating gold and silver and perhaps even use it to relieve pain.
We have ample evidence to acknowledge the fact that the early Romans and Greeks used electric eels as pain killers. What they would do is, they would go and stand on top of an electric eel and get electrocuted so they can numb sore areas. This treatment also treated headaches, prolonged illnesses and in some cases pain arising due to arthritis. One more application was it being used as a numbing agent on pregnant women who experienced labor pains during giving birth.
The simple question that arises is why this ancient knowledge has been kept from us and did not appear in books and popular media?
People who try to prove a phenomenon through alternative fields of study are always criticized for being romantics. But is that the case? Humans have found ingenious ways to tackle problems and in my opinion, the findings and breakthroughs should be shared with the masses. It’s our shared history and no one has the right to use it for their benefits.
What do you think?