Magical artifact: the techniques described in the legends were true

© Illustration RIA Novosti . Alina Polyanina Depositphotos / nejron, Elenarts, biletskiy_eДревние sailorsMagical artifact: the techniques described in the legends were true© Illustration RIA Novosti . Alina Polyanina Depositphotos / nejron, Elenarts, biletskiy_eПодпишись to daily updates RIA Science

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Vikings used to navigate at sea with the sun stone, the Parthians knew of electricity, and the ancient Greeks created the first steam engine. Archaeological finds of the last time confirm that people who lived thousands of years ago possessed technology comparable to modern.

The battery of pitcher

In 1938 excavations in Khujut-Slave to the East of modern Baghdad, the Austrian archaeologist Wilhelm Konig found a clay jar the size of a man’s fist. The neck of the jar was covered with bitumen, and inside was a folded sheet of copper and an iron rod. Characteristic traces of corrosion on the metal suggests that the pitcher was once acid — vinegar or wine.

Koenig immediately suggested to him that the galvanic element, in other words, an electric battery age almost three thousand years. But then it no one took seriously.

Half a century later, the students of Smith College from the United States under the leadership of Professor of mathematics and history of science Marjorie Seneschal made an exact replica of the Baghdad batteries, filled the container with vinegar, and he gave a voltage of 1.1 volts.

To date, found twelve pitchers, like the Baghdad artifact. What were they used for, is unclear. Koenig believed that the Parthians with the help of the batteries applied a thin layer of gilding on ceramics, jewelry and figurines. German archaeologist Gerhard Eggert refuted this assumption, stating that the people who lived on the territory of modern Iraq, were not familiar with zinc, which is required for galvanic gilding.

The canadian historian Paul Kaser has put forward the version that the Baghdad design — not the battery, and an ancient device for anesthetic procedures. According to British researcher Paul Craddock, an artifact used in religious ceremonies, were placed inside statues of the gods: touching them, believers received a mild electric shock.

The first working steam engines to a wide audience presented in the XVII century, the Italian Giovanni Branca and the Spaniard, Jeronimo de beaumont. In 1698, the British military engineer Thomas North filed a patent for a steam engine. If you believe the descriptions and drawings given in the treatise of Heron of Alexandria «Pneumatics», already two thousands years ago the ancient Greeks created the mechanisms driven by the power of steam.

The so-called aeolipile, designed by Heron, was a sphere that rotates around its axis thanks to a few emitted under pressure from two nozzles. Aimed in different directions, they create a torque, thereby aeolipile have made up to 1500 rpm at a fairly low pressure. That is the speed developing modern designs built according to the drawings of the ancient Greek inventor.Were the ancient Greeks and some kind of computer — a complex mechanical device of the three dozen bronze gears, with several dials and hands, with his help, the Greeks were calculating the movements of heavenly bodies and could accurately predict the date of astronomical events.

Mention of this mysterious device is constantly found in the ancient literature, but found it only in the early twentieth century on a Roman ship sunk near the Greek island of Antikythera. Hence the common name — a lot of the Antikythera mechanism.

From the sunken ship archaeologists raised only parts of the ancient device, and completely remodeled it in 1959, an English historian of science Derek de Solla Price.

In the beginning, the researchers involved in the international project Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, found that with this device we can very accurately predict solar and lunar eclipses. Interestingly, the device takes into account the ellipticity of the orbit of the motion of the moon, using the sine correction.

Medieval Scandinavian sagas tell about the sun stone, which the Vikings were guided in the sea. For a long time, information from the literary works was not taken seriously, and the navigation skills of the ancient Scandinavians remained a mystery until in 1967 Danish archaeologist thorkild Ramsko not suggested that magic stone crystal Iceland spar.

This transparent mineral is able to separate normal and polarized light. If you move the laser pointer, the beam will split — one pass through the stone, as through ordinary glass, and the second, polarized, deflected first beam and the throw distance. Physicists call it a double refraction and is using the Vikings locate the sun even in cloudy weather. Because if you know where the sun is, you can set the light (sun at noon is above the point of the South).

Finally the dispute about the sun stone of the Vikings closed archaeological discovery: the wreck of the British era of Queen Elizabeth I near the compass found the crystal of Icelandic spar. In 2011 a group of scientists under the leadership of guy Roper from Rennes University (France) have shown that English sailors used it for navigation, since the guns were on the ship affecting the position of the needle of a compass, but to compensate for this deviation mariners then could not.

© CC BY 2.0 / the paleobearКристалл Iceland spar, with which during the voyage, the Vikings determined the location of the sun Magical artifact: the techniques described in the legends were true© CC BY 2.0 / the paleobearКристалл Iceland spar, with which during the voyage, the Vikings determined the location of the sun

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