By: Mir M.Hosseini
(FNA) - Iran has rebuilt the world's oldest battery, dating back to the Parthian Dynasty, to explore theories about its usage 2,200 years ago.
The Parthian Battery is the name given to galvanic cells found in an ancient tomb near Khujut Rabu in 1936 just outside modern day Baghdad.
The battery consists of a 14-centimeter-high egg-shaped clay jar with an asphalt stopper. An iron rod protruding out of the asphalt is the anode, which is surrounded by a copper cylinder used as the cathode. Filled with vinegar as an electrolytic solution, the jar produces an electric current.
A Sharif University of Technology student has reproduced the battery in the exact measurements to test the three hypotheses he had on the applications of the battery.
His first theory is that the battery had been used for electroplating gold onto silver objects.
"The part to be plated is the cathode of the circuit while the anode is made of gold," Amin Taheri Najafabadi explained. "Both components are immersed in cyanide-gold salt."
He notes that cyanide-gold salt is not easily found in nature but can be found in animal bile or saltwater.
Taheri has already disproved his second hypothesis that the battery may have been invented for electricity production, as its electric potential is around 0.5V.
He assumed that the battery may have had medical applications considering the bronze and iron needles discovered next to the Parthian Battery.
"The device and its conductive needles may have been used for pain control. The use of electricity in medicine was seen in ancient Rome where electric fish were used for pain reduction," Taheri said in support of his hypothesis.
The experiment was similar to a Discovery TV Channel program called MythBusters' 29th episode (March 23, 2005). Ten hand-made terracotta jars were fitted to act as batteries. Lemon juice was chosen as the electrolyte to activate the electrochemical reaction between the copper and iron. Connected in series, the batteries produced 4 volts of electricity.