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Museum of Baghdad 1000 Year Old Battery Still Missing

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  • RemyC
    Source: The Guardian http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/research/story/0,9865,1200047,00.html Via: Conspiracy Journal - Issue 259, 4/23/04
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2004
      Source: The Guardian
      http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/research/story/0,9865,1200047,00.html
      Via: Conspiracy Journal - Issue 259, 4/23/04
      http://www.conspiracyjournal.com

      Museum of Baghdad 1000 Year Old Battery Still Missing

      By Mark Pilkington
      Thursday April 22, 2004

      The situation in Iraq makes the fate of the 8,000 or so artefacts still
      missing from the National Museum of Baghdad ever more uncertain. Among them
      is an unassuming looking, 13cm long clay jar that represents one of
      archaeology's greatest puzzles - the Baghdad battery. The enigmatic vessel
      was unearthed by the German archaeologist Wilhelm Koenig in the late 1930s,
      either in the National Museum or in a grave at Khujut Rabu, a Parthian
      (224BC-AD226) site near Baghdad (accounts differ). The corroded earthenware
      jar contained a copper cylinder, which itself encased an iron rod, all
      sealed with asphalt. Koenig recognised it as a battery and identified
      several more specimens from fragments found in the region.

      He theorised that several batteries would have been strung together, to
      increase their output, and used to electroplate precious objects. Koenig's
      ideas were rejected by his peers and, with the onset of the second world
      war, subsequently forgotten.

      Following the war, fresh analysis revealed signs of corrosion by an acidic
      substance, perhaps vinegar or wine. An American engineer, Willard Gray,
      filled a replica jar with grape juice and was able to produce 1.5-2 volts of
      power. Then, in the late 1970s, a German team used a string of replica
      batteries successfully to electroplate a thin layer of silver.

      About a dozen such jars were held in Baghdad's National Museum. Although
      their exact age is uncertain, they're thought to date from the Sassanian
      period, approximately AD225-640. While it's now largely accepted that the
      jars are indeed batteries, their purpose remains unknown. What were our
      ancestors doing with (admittedly, tiny) electric charges, 1,000 years before
      the first twitchings of our modern electrical age?

      Certainly the batteries would have been highly-valued objects: several were
      needed to provide even a small amount of power. The electroplating theory
      remains a strong contender, while a medical function has also been
      suggested - the Ancient Greeks, for example are known to have used electric
      eels to numb pain. Another possibility is that the jars were used in ritual
      circumstances, perhaps hidden inside religious statues to inject some real
      buzz into the gods.
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