A CLAY pot and its contents capable of producing an electric current is not a big deal, unless it is something that was built two thousand years ago!
There are a lot of times when people and things are out of place and out of time. It literally means, “The wrong place at the wrong time”. But that could be our own explanation at times. Maybe we cannot understand the underlying meaning and mystery of it all. What yours truly is trying to say here is, folks, that sometimes things or people do not seem to belong to a particular place or that period as we understand, but they are still there.
Simply put, archaeologists have found time and again things and structures that defy logic and explanation as to the time period to which they must have been made and belong. Yet there they are, possibly buried right under our noses for millennia. They are referred to as (Out Of Place Artefacts), or OOPARTS, by experts.
One of the most baffling of such items found is ‘The Baghdad Battery’, the name given to it by experts.
It was found in 1938 during excavations in the village of Khujut Rabu, a town near Baghdad in Iraq, a German archaeologist found a clay pot about five inches high with a copper cylinder inside which encased and iron rod held in place by an asphalt plug — quite puzzling to say the least. Why you might ask?
The answer, according to the scientists and researchers who examined the clay pot and its contents, is that the artefact is capable of producing an electric current! The town where it was dug out from was built two thousand years ago during the Parthian Period 250 BCE to 224 CE. The copper wire seems to be corroded due to some substance like vinegar or wine, which must have been used to work the battery. The researchers conclude that this ancient battery could produce electric current of approximately two volts. The question is why this mysterious artefact was made?
This is the part of the world where the ruins of the Tower of Babel were found. It is an ancient site full of legends and sites supposed to be holding buried secrets of many lost civilisations waiting to be unearthed. Now about our ancient find, we do know that it is some sort of battery from 200BC what it was used for has been nothing but assumptions by researchers. Almost 60 years after the discovery, the Baghdad Battery is still an enigma.
The Parthians, who were the people who lived around that era, were known for their expertise in warfare but not for any scientific inventions or intellectualism. So the object is totally out of place as you might call it. Dr St John Simpson from the Department of the Ancient Near East at the British Museum stated to authorities that, “The pot itself is Sassanian. This discrepancy presumably lies either in a misidentification of the age of the ceramic vessel, or the site at which they were found”.
Yes! More such pots have been found. In Middle Eastern history, the Sassanian period (AD225-640), was the end of the ancient era and the marks the beginning of the scientific era when more attention was paid to knowledge and studies. So, the question is how did the ancient Persians acquire the scientific knowledge to produce electricity? And what would a gizmo producing two volts of electricity be used for. Experts have many interesting ideas. It could have been used as a painkiller.
In ancient Greece, electric fish were used to ease pain by applying them to the soles of the feet of the patient. But the current is too low to work for this purpose. So that idea is discarded.
Now here is the most interesting one of all or should one say trickiest? The pot was supposedly put inside an idol or statue of some ancient god, and when people came for worship and touched it, they felt a tingling sensation or saw a slight glow. The worshippers would never know about the clay pot inside and think the idol was alive!
How’s that for a smart trick by some cunning ancient priest?
On a serious note, it could also have been used to coat jewellery or ‘gilding’ metal with silver or gold. But then again nothing gilded has been found from the era or time of the artefact. So what is this mysterious object and what was it used for at a time when no one had the knowledge (we think) to invent something like this? Maybe historians do not “know it all”.
Right now, it sits in the Baghdad Museum, a puzzle and mystery waiting to be solved.