Talk:Baghdad Battery

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Dating, picture[edit]

Was the original discovery simply a reported event, or is there an actual artifact?

There is an actual artefact. In fact, about a dozen of them.

Has it been dated? How?

No. The date is pure speculation. No components of the devices are amenable to dating, and - according to Dr St John Simpson of the Near Eastern department of the British Museum - their context was not properly recorded. König thought they were Parthian because the village in which they were said to have been found was Parthian; the Parthian culture disappeared around the mid-3rd century AD. However the style of the pottery is Sassanian (224-640 AD). Given the relatively mild degree of corrosion of the iron rods (despite being the anode of electochemical couple!), one would think that latest possible plausible date would be the one to plump for, but oddly enough everyone goes for the earliest possible date that is vaguely supportable. Securiger 10:02, 19 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Can we get a diagram for wikipedia? There are a lot of examples online to draw from. - Omegatron 15:52, Jun 8, 2004 (UTC)

Why I think the "Coso artifact" doesn't belong as a see also[edit]

The Coso artifact is a 20th century sparkplug believed by some to be an impossibly early bit of technology - half a million years old.

No one argues about the date of these artefacts (plural, there is more than one, I have no idea why the title is singular). Some people believe they were created as batteries. This isn't impossible as the materials existed and the discovery could have been accidental. It's just wrong.

I'm not sure if this is an example of a "categorical difference", but the differences seem large to me. Doug Weller (talk) 16:56, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

I think a legitimate argument could be made both for and against inclusion. The fact is that there is not a shred of evidence to prove the "Baghdad Battery" was ever actually invented, let alone used as a battery. There is not even any circumstantial evidence to back up that claim, just as there isn't any evidence to prove that it was used for electroplating. In other words, there is no evidence at all to prove for what use the "Baghdad Battery" was actually intended for, or whether it was even actually used for anything at all. It's all speculation.
The similarity to the Corso artifact would be in the claim that in this sense of speculation and pseudoarchaeology. If you are arguing that connecting the two constitutes original research, that's a different matter entirely. Are there prior comparisons between these artifacts that can be established? Laval (talk) 02:52, 12 June 2015 (UTC)
The reason for inclusion was that the Coso artifact (just one) was also an archeological find which was originally interpreted as an impossibly old electronic device — Preceding unsigned comment added by Aardwolf A380 (talkcontribs) 07:27, 12 June 2015 (UTC)
That's not the case. The Coso artifact was found by prospectors looking for geodes, not by archaeologists excavating an archaeological site. And the accidental discovery of a battery at that time is possible, if not likely, and certainly not "impossibly old". One is historic, the other hundreds of millions of years before Homo sapiens existed and unlike these artifacts, would require a completely rewrite of the history of humanity. Doug Weller (talk) 11:27, 12 June 2015 (UTC)
500,000 years was not 'long before' Homo Sapiens existed. I understand that both objects can be seen as almost the opposites of each other: the Baghdad Battery was an ancient object mistaken as being some sort of archaic battery; the Coso artifact was a modern spark plug mistaken as being from the Stone Age. However, the fact that both were incorrectly judged by some to be evidance of electrical knowledge thousands of years earlier than generally considered possible to me warrants a link to be made. Aardwolf A380 (talk) 00:08, 13 June 2015 (UTC)
It's about 300,000 years before Homo Sapiens existed, and about 460,000 years give or take before there were even ancestors of Homo Sapiens in North America. That is definitely "long before", and would require a rewrite of evolution to allow for technically advance hominids in the Americas. "Thousands of years" earlier certainly isn't 500,000 years. And since it is easy to make a battery using commonly available materials, eg potatoes or lemons and 2 kinds of metal, it could have happened through serendipity - although unlikely. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Doug Weller (talkcontribs) 07:51, 13 June 2015 (UTC)
Ok, maybe it could be considered 'long before' modern humans existed. However, this is not the point and should not distract from my previous reasoning. If Doug Weller thinks I am trying to legitimise the Coso artifact (which I don't believe to be the case) they are mistaken. Furthermore, it appears that the general consensus is that the Baghdad artifact was as much not a battery as the Coso find was not 500,000 years old. Aardwolf A380 (talk) 09:58, 13 June 2015 (UTC)
I absolutely do not think in any way that you are trying to legitimise the Coso artifact. I just think these are too unlike to be see alsos. We have a good faith disagreement. Doug Weller (talk) 11:08, 13 June 2015 (UTC)
I am sorry if any of my comments might have appeared to be overly assertive; no harm was intended in any way. The only way for this issue to get resolved in my view is for several editors other than ourselves to contribute to this discussion Aardwolf A380 (talk) 12:01, 13 June 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I can't really see a problem with this as a see also. It is helpful for readers looking for articles about artefacts claimed to be examples of ancient advanced technology. The fact that it isn't really an ancient artefact is really beside the point. We are not really making any claim about it one way or the other by putting it in see also. It's something that could plausibly be discussed in the article, by way of comparison and contrast for instance, and ultimately, that is the justification for a see also according to WP:ALSO. The guideline also says "The links...might be only indirectly related...because one to enable readers to explore tangentially related topics." Links in a navigation template need to be exactly as claimed in the navbox titles, but see also can be more free form. SpinningSpark 17:20, 13 June 2015 (UTC)

Fine, I withdraw my objection. Doug Weller (talk) 17:35, 13 June 2015 (UTC)

Generally rejected?[edit]

Permit me to be the skeptic here.

The Baghdad Battery is believed to be about 2000 years old (from the Parthian period, roughly 250 BCE to CE 250). The jar was found in Khujut Rabu just outside Baghdad and is composed of a clay jar with a stopper made of asphalt. Sticking through the asphalt is an iron rod surrounded by a copper cylinder. When filled with vinegar - orany other electrolytic solution - the jar produces about 1.1 volts.
There is no written record as to the exact function of the jar, but the best guess is that it was a type of battery. Scientists believe the batteries (if that is their correct function) were used to electroplate items such as putting a layer of one metal (gold) onto the surface of another (silver), a method still practiced in Iraq today.

And it's not the only artifact that may have been a battery:

As a new example, the hypothetic “Thracian battery” presents an interesting opportunity to expose students and interested people to the nature of electrochemistry trough scientific examination of one of the most famous archeological artefacts of the Thracian civilization – the Kazichene treasure. Kortoso (talk) 21:52, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

Your first link is to a webpage created by a couple of students. Hardly a good source for a "best guess". Your second is to a paper which is speculation by non-archaeologists who are honest about the lack of evidence: " However, no archaeological evidence exists supporting the application of ancient galvanic elements or other similar electrical devices." It's the people who are specialists in archaeology who we should be listening to, not students or experts in other fields. Doug Weller (talk) 10:07, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
A reasonable attitude. I'll give you that. But consider how rare it is for any archeological artifact to be unearthed complete with a user's manual or even a label telling us what it's for. Kortoso (talk) 18:00, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
It is one thing to identify a piece of 2000-year-old equipment as a wine press. There is plenty of evidence from artefacts that wine was made, indeed was a huge industry, in the period, to say nothing of the written record. For batteries, there are no artefacts that batteries could have been used to make (those suggested to be electroplated with gold have been shown to be a different metallurgical process) and there is no written evidence of any such process. It is not for Wikipedia to speculate what an unknown item was used for. If there is expert opinion given such speculation then we can report it, but we should not take our information from those who have little idea what they are talking about. SpinningSpark 11:16, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
For me, the overwhelming evidence that it was not a battery is that the metal parts do not penetrate the asphalt stopper but are embedded within it, and so no electrical connection could be made to them. This is almost never mentioned in descriptions that favour its interpretation as a battery. The reconstruction on the first link, which shows a voltmeter connected to the metal parts outside, is thus inaccurate. —BillC talk 12:25, 22 November 2015 (UTC)

External links[edit]

@Doug Weller: I have removed this recently added as an external link. I cannot see that this is a link compliant with WP:EL. It does not say anything the article could not say if it could be sourced, and it is an anonymous blog promoting an opinion. Doug, if you leave this in place, how are you going to justify removal of the next EL that gets inserted for an anonymous blog supporting the battery theory? SpinningSpark 01:55, 30 December 2015 (UTC)

It's cohosted by the Ken Feder, undoubtedly the best academic/archaeologist writing about subjects such as this one, with 2 published books on fringe archaeology, one a textbook in its 8th edition. Doug Weller talk 07:28, 30 December 2015 (UTC)
The blog is not cohosted by Feder, that was a podcast. The blog is by a trainee. I can't say I am impressed with the scholarly standard of that podcast. It is very easy to shoot down unqualified fringe writing from the internet, which is what that podcast is all about. But it totally ignores the academic papers supporting the claim, or at least lumps them in with the internet garbage without actually looking at them. I find it particularly concerning that they claim König's paper does not exist. It doesn't exist on the internet, and it doesn't exist in English, but it does exist. Perhaps Archyfantasies couldn't find it because she thinks that König is pronounced "Kong". SpinningSpark 15:37, 30 December 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, you are right, it's the podcasts that Ken cohosts. But I think you've gotten confused as well, the link wasn't a podcast, those came later. You're also wrong in claiming that she says Konig's paper doesn't exist (sorry, my keyboard doesn't easily do umlauts), she says she couldn't find it. Where do you get the idea she couldn't pronounce his name? Doug Weller talk 19:35, 30 December 2015 (UTC)
I'm not confused. Saying she can't find the paper is pretty much implying it doesn't exist when raising it in the context of red flags. That is even clearer in the podcast than the blog (as is her laughable pronunciation). In any case, it is pretty much scholarly incompetence to rely on the very fringe sources you are criticising for proper information on König's paper. I found the full citation within ten minutes of searching. Amongst other places, it is in Keyser's paper (refed in our article) which I got off JSTOR. It is in a journal held at (according to Copac) the British Library and Oxford and Cambridge Universities amongst other places so obtaining a copy is doable if necessary, but I really don't see why it should be. Sevreal of her other "red flags" I am sure would have been easily answered and found to be none issues if only she had gone to the trouble of reading the original paper. SpinningSpark 22:56, 30 December 2015 (UTC)

Asphalt plug[edit]

I have marked as citation needed the claim that the asphalt plug completely sealed in the iron and copper components. According to the Keyser source, they both projected through the plug so this claim should probably be removed. In fact, the whole "Battery hypothesis" section is uncited and sounds like OR of some technically minded editor. SpinningSpark 23:23, 30 December 2015 (UTC)

Copyvio link?[edit]

[1] looks like copyvio, am I missing something? Doug Weller talk 05:52, 31 December 2015 (UTC)

Agreed, it's copyvio. The Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics might be able to justify posting it for their internal use as fair use, but I don't think we should be linking to it per WP:ELNEVER. The JSTOR page has it clearly marked as copyright of University of Chicago Press, so it is not public domain. I found the article directly from JSTOR, I did not previously notice that our link went somewhere else. Now that I have looked at our cite, it is full of unwarranted POV text with lots of "allegeds". I'm going to remove it. Unless there is some evidence, or at least a source that alleges, that Keyser's photos are faked we just shouldn't be saying that. SpinningSpark 12:30, 31 December 2015 (UTC)