Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Baghdad Battery

Baghdad Battery also known as Parthian Battery

Baghdad Battery 1
While excavating the ruins of a 2000 year old village near Bagdad, some workers discovered mysterious small vase, a six inch high pot of bright yellow clay which dates back two millennia, containing a cylinder of sheet copper five inches by 1.5 inches.

The edge of the copper cylinder seemed to be soldered with a sixty to forty lead tin alloy compared to our present day solder while the bottom of the cylinder was capped with crimped in copper disk, sealed with bitumen or asphalt.

Baghdad Battery 2
Another insulating layer of asphalt also sealed the top holding in place an iron rod which was suspended into the centre of the copper cylinder and the rod indicated of having been corroded with an acidic agent.

The Baghdad Battery also referred as the Parthian Battery, is the common name for a number of artifacts which were created in Mesopotamia during the Parthian or Sassanid or Persian Empire period and was discovered in 1936 in the village of Khuyut Rabbou’s near Baghdad, Iraq.

Wilhelm Konig – Discovered the battery in 1938

Baghdad Battery 5
Known as the Baghdad Battery, the jar was first described in 1938 by Wilhelm Konig, the German director of the National Museum in Iraq when he found the collection of objects in the museum. Konig published a paper in 1940 thinking that they may have been galvanic cells which were perhaps used for electroplating gold onto silver object and this interpretation is far from having widespread acceptance though it continues to be at least a hypothetical possibility by some of the scientist.

 It is not entirely clear that the jar could have been used as a battery though it had an asphalt stopper, an iron bar and a copper cylinder which was filled with some kind of unknown liquid and according to the Unmuseum, the battery could have been used for electroplating.

Capabilities of generating small Current

Baghdad Battery 4
When the jar is filled with an acidic liquid like vinegar or fermented grape juice, it is capable of generating a small current where the acidic liquid permits a flow of electrons from the copper tube to the iron rod when the two metal terminals get connected. This is the same principle which was discovered by Galvani 2000 years later and which Volta successfully harnessed in the first modern battery some years later.

According to some, the voltic pile or electric battery was invented in 1800 by Count Alassandro Volta. His observation was that when two dissimilar metal probes were placed against frog tissue, a weak electric current was generated which he thought could be reproduced outside living tissue by placing of the metals in certain chemical solution.

For this as well as his other work with electricity, his name is commemorated in the measurement of electric potential known as the volt. The jar at Bagdad indicates that Volta did not invent the battery on the contrary, he reinvented it. Some of the scientist did not accept the electric battery description for the jar white others suggested that they were simply containers which were used to hold papyrus scrolls which had rotted away leaving just the jars.

Baghdad Battery 3
Speculations were on that if they were batteries then who could have made them and what was the purpose of its existence.

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