Secrets of Green Cultures Part II: How Ancient Civilization Harnessed Energy

From batteries to electric lighting to wind power, it looks like ancient history has some interesting, secret surprises. This Earth Day re-unite with your green brothers and sisters of yesteryear.

Desert Duracell

egyptWorkers sifting through a Baghdad village in 1936 thought they had unearthed another type of ancient pottery from the Parthian period (250 BC to 224 AD), but little did they know was that it was a trove of prehistoric, handmade battery technology disguised in 6” high clay vases. Lined with copper, soldered with lead-tin, fitted with an iron rod and sealed with asphalt these terra cotta pots held a surprising, impressive technology. By simply adding an acidic liquid (electrolyte), such as grape juice, it would react with the copper and iron (electromagnetic couple) to form a low electrical charge. BBC News reports of some theorized uses of this desert Duracell:

  • Healing – Electric fish were often used on the soles of the feet for medicinal effects. This battery may have been attempting replicate that. Also, many batteries were found with ‘needle-like’ remnants nearby which may have been acupuncture needles that were attached to the electrical charge, also used for healing.
  • Electroplating – The other speculation is derived from evidence found to suggest electroplating. This is the practice of attaching a thin layer of metal onto another, often used in jewelry or money production.

This technology was a clear indication of the possibility of green battery power that could be used today that needs no caustic, chemical, unsustainable material to work.

Egyptian Light Bulb

Another incredible find is in the temple of Hathor in Dendra. A Norwegian electrical engineer was stunned by a specific hieroglyphic. It depicted what looked like a long tube with a filament inside creating light. A group of electrical engineers convened and, using this image, re-constructed the ‘bulb’ which actually worked. It was considered to be an exact replica of a Crooke’s tube. This was an experimental device invented in the 1800’s to view cathode rays (which were later used in the invention of the x-ray). Without any signs of soot residue from the use of candle or oil lamps in the temple, it is theorized that the Egyptians could have very well invented electrical light before its time.

Iranian Windcatchers

badgirLiving in the desert climate in the early 19th Century, Iranians came up with a unique architectural structure called a badgir. It was a tall capped tower with multi-openings that would catch wind currents, transport them down a shaft and actually store the wind in underground canals. The wind would be used in conjunction with water reservoirs at the bottom to cool the structure on hot humid days while at the same time preserve food. This design has been embraced by modern culture in such wind catching structures as the visitor center in Zion National Park, USA, the Saint-Etienne Metropole’s Zenith in France and Burj al-Taqa, a zero emission and zero energy tower in Dubai

These innovations before their time shows modern man the capability of green energy without the need for major political, financial, chemical or infrastructure changes.

Next up: Secrets of Green Cultures Part III: Recycling in the Past

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