An Ancient 150BC Parthenon Battery Was Discovered by Wilhelm Konig Long Before The Electric Battery By Alessandro Volta

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Alessandro Volta is credited with the first-ever description of an electric battery on Mar. 20, 1800. Despite this, Wilhelm Konig, a painter and archaeologist discovered what is known as the "Baghdad Battery," or the "Parthian Battery." [i]
Two Baghdad Batteries are on display.Boynton Art Studio

Konig never revealed when, where, or how he stumbled upon the artifact, but it is alleged to have been found in Iraq in 1936. He discovered a set of three artifacts, a ceramic pot, a tube of copper, and a rod of iron. [ii]
A sketch of the Baghdad BatteryHistoric Mysteries

Over time, approximately 12 of these artifacts have been discovered. When first discovered, Konig described the pot as roughly 5 inches tall, with approximately a one-and-a-half-inch top opening. [iii]

It was believed that yellow clay was used to make the 2,000-year-old pot. Its inside was a "copper cylinder soldered with 60-40 lead-tin alloy," with a bottom "capped with copper and sealed with asphalt." [iii]

The components discovered in the ancient remains contained the main elements to create a battery. The artifact had two metals that had "different electro potentials." Combining that with an electrolyte creates a battery. Furthermore, studies of the corrosion on the artifact indicate that "an ionic solution - an electrolyte - might have been present in the jar." [iv]
The Baghdad Battery consists of a ceramic pot, a hollow copper tube, and an iron rod.Historic Mysteries

There are many proposals for what the Baghdad Battery may have been used for. Many indicate that it may have been used as a local analgesic in place of electric fish. In the period of the Baghdad Battery, Greeks "found that placing electric fish on feet helped in pain relief." [v]

The battery could only produce less than one volt of energy, limiting the likelihood of its use in many areas. Because of this, many researchers also disagree with Konig's theory that the battery was used for a process that coats one metal with another, known as gliding. No evidence has ever been revealed to support Konig's theory. [vi]

Watch the video below for more theory on how the Baghdad Battery may have been used.


[i] Discovery, The Mystery of the Baghdad Battery, June. 7, 2022

[ii] Historic Mysteries, The Mysterious Baghdad Battery, (2022)

[iii] Id.

[iv] Discovery, The Mystery of the Baghdad Battery, June. 7, 2022

[v] Id.

[vi] Paul Keyser, The Purpose of the Parthian Galvanic Cells, (Apr. 1993)

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