So a little while ago we told you about some of the ways that ancient civilizations appear to have harnessed electricity. I think everyone has had enough time to accept that, even if they weren’t using electricity, many ancient civilizations were definitely aware of it. They may not have understood exactly how it was created and thought it came from the gods, but there is no doubt that they worked out ways to replicate or ‘waken’ this power for their own use or entertainment.
So far we have told you about five artefacts that seem to show these ancient civilizations were actually harnessing electricity, but here are a few more controversial, and highly disputed, examples you probably never knew about:
The Abydos Machines
For decades, Leonardo Da Vinci has been credited with being the first person to dream up the concept of a helicopter. But there are some Egyptologists who believe a series of carvings located in Hypostyle Hall of the Temple of Seti clearly depict a variety of modern aircraft. Now while the Abydos Machines don’t really have anything to do with electricity, it is a generally accepted that modern flight would never be possible without some kind of energy.
The carvings in Abydos seem to depict a helicopter, hovercraft, airship, satellite and jet fighter although there are skeptics who say these images are a coincidence caused by over carving – even though efforts to recreate the effect have been unsuccessful!
The Temple Light Of Isis
Born in North Africa in 354 A.D., St. Augustine converted to Christianity when he was about 32 years old. He travelled to Hippo Regius a few years later, where he became its first priest and later the towns’ bishop. Known as an academic, he was one of the most prolific writers of his time and in his work City of God, specifically Chapter 6 of Book 11, he talks about a temple of Venus (the Roman name for Isis) that housed a lamp with an asbestos base.
Despite this lamp being in the open air, it was never effected by the weather. He suggested it was the work of ‘corrupted’ (possessed) men or a resident demon, and says that it was called the ‘inextinguishable lamp.’
The ‘Agastya Samhita’
Dating back to the first millennium B.C. and housed in the Prince’s Library of Ujjain in India, there is a remarkably well preserved Sanskrit text believed to have been written by Rsi Agastya, a renowned ancient Verdic scholar. Called the ‘Agastya Samhita’ it literally means Agastya Code. This text doesn’t appear in any other versions of the Ramayana epic so there is dispute about their authenticity.
But assuming they are real, they contain detailed descriptions of building a dry battery or cell, then using it to split water into what he called Pranavayu (vital – oxygen)and Udanavayu (upfaced – hydrogen), a process that wouldn’t be replicated for centuries!
General Chu’s Girdle
Unearthed in 1952, the skeleton of General Zhou Chu was found with a collection of small metal fragments about his hips, indicating they formed part of a belt or girdle. The first time these fragments were tested, it was found that they were composed of 85% Aluminum, 10% Copper and 5% Manganese. This caused quite a stir because a viable method of producing aluminum was not discovered until the mid-19th Century and involves an electrolytic process.
Later testing revealed that these fragments were primarily a silver alloy, but that there were some aluminum fragments as well. The presence of these additional fragments has been blamed on grave robbers, but skeptic’s question whether grave robbers (even those who fear the wrath of the dead) would leave such small and easily carried pieces of silver behind, especially as they came close enough to these fragments that ‘traces’ of their tools were found.
There is a collection of copper vases, excavated from Sumerian sites that were displayed in the Baghdad Museum which seem to have been electroplated with an extremely thin layer of silver. Dated to somewhere between 2,500 B.C. and 2,000 B.C these vases predate the earliest discovered batteries by 1,000 years. A number of other objects including small religious statues and other objects also show evidence that backs the theory that electroplating existed in ancient times.
There are a variety of other techniques that closely mimic the effects of electroplating such as electro deposition and the Tumbaga process which makes a mostly copper object appear like pure gold, but it should be noted that they are not as effective and anything plated with these processes generally have more flaws than the artefacts mentioned do.
Now as mentioned at the beginning, these examples are A LOT more controversial than the first five we mentioned. They all have pretty logical arguments against them being real evidence of electricity actually being used in ancient times, but there is enough evidence of them being fact that they all deserve a mention! So now that you know about some POSSIBLE examples of ancient electricity, what do you think?
Were ancient civilizations smarter than we give them credit for and was the technology of harnessing electricity as a source of energy only REDISCOVERED by Allesandro Volta back when he built the first voltaic pile and sent an electrical charge through a conductor for the ‘first’ time?