Posts Tagged ‘konig’

A couple weeks ago, I wrote that I was reading Jason Elliot’s book on Iran. That was my post about the rediscovery of the “extinct” Caspian horse.

Elliot slams through millenia of history in that part of the world kind of like the comedy troupe that purports to perform “The Complete Works of Shakespeare” in 90 minutes. He is very good at it, I think. But maybe that’s because I know so little about the endlessly shifting borders of Central Asia and the Middle East.

Among other interesting tidbits in the book is this one on the Baghdad Battery. In Mirrors of the Unseen, Elliot writes that this ancient form of battery was “constructed of an earthenware shell containing an iron rod insulated by an asphalt plug from an outer copper sleeve. A modest electric current is produced when the housing is filled with an electrolytic solution such as lemon juice.”

Wikipedia has more. “The Baghdad Battery, sometimes referred to as the Parthian Battery, is the common name for a number of artifacts created in Mesopotamia, during the dynasties of Parthian or Sassanid period (the early centuries AD), and probably discovered in 1936 in the village of Khuyut Rabbou’a, near Baghdad, Iraq. These artifacts came to wider attention in 1938 when Wilhelm  König, the German director of the National Museum of Iraq, found the
objects in the museum’s collections. In 1940, König published a paper speculating that they may have been galvanic cells, perhaps used for electroplating gold and silver objects … This interpretation continues to be considered as at least a hypothetical possibility. If correct, the artifacts would predate Alessandro Volta’s 1800 invention of the electrochemical cell by more than a millennium.”

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