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Dendera Lights - A Possible Explanation


Mike Fox
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I have long puzzled at how intricate hieroglyphics and frescos were painted inside Ancient Egyptian tombs without leaving detectible smoke deposits.

The so-called Dendera Lights have been suggested as a possible source of illumination, and art work depicting these has been widely reported.For example here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dendera_Krypta_48_(cropped).jpg

Similarly, there has been a lot of speculation as to the use of baghdad batteries historically, see here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Battery

My hypothesis is as follows:

- the ancient egyptians prrobably knew that a ceramic pot with joined copper and meteoric iron inserts in an electrolyte such as lemon or wine juice produced bubbles.

- it's also probable that they captured these in a container and found them to be explosive.

Looking at the Dendera Lights, there are a number of key components:

- A large box - let's say for the purposes of this theory that this contains a large number of "Baghdad Battery type vessels". Let's also assume the lid of the box is sealed with something like flour dough.

- Hose leading from the box to the appliance. For arguments sake, lets assume this is one or more ox intestines, covered in grease to make it air-tight, and whipped or bound onto the box.

- A central rod, in the form of a serpent, which could be made from a wooden or papyrus tube, covered in clay to make it air tight, and with some kind of narrow aperture at the end, such as made by a sharp thorn

The combination of these three items would produce a weak stream of hydrogen and oxygen gas, which burns at around 2,500°C.

Training this heat source onto limestone or better still quicklime, would produce limelight - see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limelight

This would be intense, blinding and dangerous, with many pitfalls that only experimentation with distance, focus, length of central rod etc would resolve.

A light shade of some form would threfore be needed, and papyrus could be used to construct something like a papier mache "bulb", which would not have to be airtight. Making this ornamental would be part of the mystique of such a device.

A method of fitting the shade over the clay/ceramic tube, a connector - again ornamental

So, from the images of the Dendera light:

- you have a light shade,

- a ceramic tube that trains a hydrogen/oxygen flame onto quickliime at the perfect distance

- an ornate connector for the shade to fit over the ceramic tube 

- a flexible tube to enable the gas mix to be delivered and the bulb to be carefully positioned

- an airtight box containing bubbling primitive batteries generating hydrogen and oxygen at low pressure

I believe this explanation might fit the images, using technology and materials that would have been present at the time.

Experimental archeologists might wish to try to replicate this before dismissing this completely.

 

Edited by Mike Fox
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8 minutes ago, Mike Fox said:

have long puzzled at how intricate hieroglyphics and frescos were painted inside Ancient Egyptian tombs without leaving detectible smoke deposits.

Just from the top, this has been an often discussed topic here. And the response is more than casual criticism. 

 One thing to start with is the panel from Dendera comes from the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt. Not what is typicaly referred to when people speak of Ancient Egypt. That's without considering the writing and symbolism surrounding it which gives context. 

The other is the Baghdad battery comes from the 1st to second centuries AD. 

 There are a few flaws with the battery interpretation, which are discussed in the Wikipedia article. The copper rod being inside making it impossible to complete a circuit, the bitumen seal preventing it from being topped off with the needed chemicals. 

 You've kind of jumped from what you think they resemble to designing a way for the design to work, without really justifying it. 

 Putting that aside, we're still looking at the last decades BC into the first two centuries AD. 

 Even if we accept this as true, we can only say its true for Egypt under Ptolemaic rule, and no evidence for it in earlier dynasties. 

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I don't think the Baghdad batteries are really batteries. And the Dendera lights aren't light bulbs either. Both sound fun theories but the supporting archaeological evidence is missing.I remember being very intrigued by Chariot of the Gods then later found out that one of the structures he had proposed was a 'landing strip' and was shown in the book was actually just a small relief- and he must have known this. 

Now this, on the other hand:

How-An-Astronaut-Carving-Exists-In-A-1500s-Cathedral1400a_5f2b905bb23e1.jpeg

Edited by The Silver Shroud
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11 minutes ago, Mike Fox said:

I have long puzzled at how intricate hieroglyphics and frescos were painted inside Ancient Egyptian tombs without leaving detectible smoke deposits.

The so-called Dendera Lights have been suggested as a possible source of illumination, and art work depicting these has been widely reported.For example here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dendera_Krypta_48_(cropped).jpg

Similarly, there has been a lot of speculation as to the use of baghdad batteries historically, see here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Battery

My hypothesis is as follows:

- the ancient egyptians prrobably knew that a ceramic pot with joined copper and meteoric iron inserts in an electrolyte such as lemon or wine juice produced bubbles.

- it's also probable that they captured these in a container and found them to be explosive.

Looking at the Dendera Lights, there are a number of key components:

- A large box - let's say for the purposes of this theory that this contains a large number of "Baghdad Battery type vessels". Let's also assume the lid of the box is sealed with something like flour dough.

- Hose leading from the box to the appliance. For arguments sake, lets assume this is one or more ox intestines, covered in grease to make it air-tight, and whipped or bound onto the box.

- A central rod, in the form of a serpent, which could be made from a wooden or papyrus tube, covered in clay to make it air tight, and with some kind of narrow aperture at the end, such as made by a sharp thorn

The combination of these three items would produce a weak stream of hydrogen and oxygen gas, which burns at around 2,500°C.

Training this heat source onto limestone or better still quicklime, would produce limelight - see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limelight

This would be intense, blinding and dangerous, with many pitfalls that only experimentation with distance, focus, length of central rod etc would resolve.

A light shade of some form would threfore be needed, and papyrus could be used to construct something like a papier mache "bulb", which would not have to be airtight. Making this ornamental would be part of the mystique of such a device.

A method of fitting the shade over the clay/ceramic tube, a connector - again ornamental

So, from the images of the Dendera light:

- you have a light shade,

- a ceramic tube that trains a hydrogen/oxygen flame onto quickliime at the perfect distance

- an ornate connector for the shade to fit over the ceramic tube 

- a flexible tube to enable the gas mix to be delivered and the bulb to be carefully positioned

- an airtight box containing bubbling primitive batteries generating hydrogen and oxygen at low pressure

I believe this explanation might fit the images, using technology and materials that would have been present at the time.

Experimental archeologists might wish to try to replicate this before dismissing this completely.

 

Mike welcome to the forum, I am not an expert on this subject, however there are members here who are experts in Ancient Egypt hope someone will see this and start a discussion or offer an opinion. 

Here are some Acedemic papers or journals on the subject, they may interest you.

Search for Hidden Light in the Pyramids https://dergipark.org.tr/en/download/article-file/620376

Light, Darkness and Shadow in ancient Egypt and how light was produced in Tombs:https://journals.ekb.eg/article_115880_bc65fc2175b07cec2394b7738ee5ea84.pdf

Hope this helps. 

 

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Thanks for the updates, but please note that my concept does NOT require electricity to generate the light, just different joined metals in an electrolyte to produce hydrogen/oxygen.

This has NOT been covered in other publications provided.

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5 minutes ago, The Silver Shroud said:

I don't think the Baghdad batteries are really batteries. And the Dendera lights aren't light bulbs either. Both sound fun theories but the supporting archaeological evidence is missing.I remember being very intrigued by Chariot of the Gods then later found out that one of the structures he had proposed was a 'landing strip' and was shown in the book was actually just a small relief- and he must have known this. 

Now this, on the other hand:

How-An-Astronaut-Carving-Exists-In-A-1500s-Cathedral1400a_5f2b905bb23e1.jpeg

I would argue the fact concerning the Baghdad Batteries, I don't believe they used as a power source for any type of machinery, but I do believe they were used as power source for electroplating objects. 

The Baghdad Battery—Myth or Reality https://www.nmfrc.org/pdf/psf2002/050284.pdf

The Baghdad Battery http://www.ampere.cnrs.fr/histoire/files/original/b44242819898378f3f40ea294e923e5c.pdf

Keeping Us All Unplugged – The Battery: http://illumin.usc.edu/assets/submissions/757/The Battery revised.docx

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2 minutes ago, Mike Fox said:

Thanks for the updates, but please note that my concept does NOT require electricity to generate the light, just different joined metals in an electrolyte to produce hydrogen/oxygen.

This has NOT been covered in other publications provided.

Well, no. But you haven't demonstrated your interpretation is correct in the first place. Or worked it into ancient Egypt. 

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50 minutes ago, The Silver Shroud said:

...

Now this, on the other hand:

...

The really striking thing about the Salamanca Astronaut is the extent of the deterioration that's taken place just since 1992.  Was the material some form of limestone that was less durable than other forms?

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I do not have the skills nor materials to demonstrate my theory is correct through building the equipment descibed.

However, this video from YouTube (see from 8 minutes 35 seconds) shows how a low pressure hydrogen/oxygen mixture resulting from electrolysis, can generate a 2,500°C flame, sufficient to make vivid white limelight from quicklime, limestone, or in this case oyster shell..

I cannot demonstrate that my interpretation is correct, I can merely demonstrate it's plausible, and how each part of the dynastic Egyptian images can be explained, and potentially produced using available materials at the time.

Edited by Mike Fox
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9 hours ago, Mike Fox said:

I have long puzzled at how intricate hieroglyphics and frescos were painted inside Ancient Egyptian tombs without leaving detectible smoke deposits.

The so-called Dendera Lights have been suggested as a possible source of illumination, and art work depicting these has been widely reported.For example here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dendera_Krypta_48_(cropped).jpg

Similarly, there has been a lot of speculation as to the use of baghdad batteries historically, see here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Battery

My hypothesis is as follows:

- the ancient egyptians prrobably knew that a ceramic pot with joined copper and meteoric iron inserts in an electrolyte such as lemon or wine juice produced bubbles.

- it's also probable that they captured these in a container and found them to be explosive.

Looking at the Dendera Lights, there are a number of key components:

- A large box - let's say for the purposes of this theory that this contains a large number of "Baghdad Battery type vessels". Let's also assume the lid of the box is sealed with something like flour dough.

- Hose leading from the box to the appliance. For arguments sake, lets assume this is one or more ox intestines, covered in grease to make it air-tight, and whipped or bound onto the box.

- A central rod, in the form of a serpent, which could be made from a wooden or papyrus tube, covered in clay to make it air tight, and with some kind of narrow aperture at the end, such as made by a sharp thorn

The combination of these three items would produce a weak stream of hydrogen and oxygen gas, which burns at around 2,500°C.

Training this heat source onto limestone or better still quicklime, would produce limelight - see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limelight

This would be intense, blinding and dangerous, with many pitfalls that only experimentation with distance, focus, length of central rod etc would resolve.

A light shade of some form would threfore be needed, and papyrus could be used to construct something like a papier mache "bulb", which would not have to be airtight. Making this ornamental would be part of the mystique of such a device.

A method of fitting the shade over the clay/ceramic tube, a connector - again ornamental

So, from the images of the Dendera light:

- you have a light shade,

- a ceramic tube that trains a hydrogen/oxygen flame onto quickliime at the perfect distance

- an ornate connector for the shade to fit over the ceramic tube 

- a flexible tube to enable the gas mix to be delivered and the bulb to be carefully positioned

- an airtight box containing bubbling primitive batteries generating hydrogen and oxygen at low pressure

I believe this explanation might fit the images, using technology and materials that would have been present at the time.

Experimental archeologists might wish to try to replicate this before dismissing this completely.

 

Welcome to the Forum Mike

The translation of the writing associated with that piece of art

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dendera_light#Depictions_and_text

Most images cut the inscription out to make it look more mysterious

denderalights1.jpg

Context is important also it is found within the temple of Hathor

dendera_plan.jpg

 

Quote

The pictures above are the front entrance to the Temple of Het-Heru and its floor plan.  The crypts are the small rooms in the three walls (east, South, and West) surrounding the hall with the cult rooms. The “Light Bulb Crypt” is labeled “SC” (chamber C of the South crypts) is located above the room labeled “I” and can be entered with the stairs shown in room “M.” The rooms were dedicated to the following festivals:

  • Room D was for the “new dressing of Osiris”
  • Room F was for the Sokar-festival
  • Room G was used for many festivals: From the crypt with the “light bulbs” (SC):
    • Sed-Fest (30 year throne jubilee)
    • Festival of the new moon of the 4th month of the Prt-season
    • Day of the wp-rnpt (New year festival)
    • Night of the child in his nest
    • Festival of the New Year (tp-rnpt)

    From the last crypt in the eastern wall (OG):

 

Edited by Hanslune
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11 hours ago, Mike Fox said:

I have long puzzled at how intricate hieroglyphics and frescos were painted inside Ancient Egyptian tombs without leaving detectible smoke deposits.

The so-called Dendera Lights have been suggested as a possible source of illumination, and art work depicting these has been widely reported.For example here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dendera_Krypta_48_(cropped).jpg

Similarly, there has been a lot of speculation as to the use of baghdad batteries historically, see here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Battery

My hypothesis is as follows:

- the ancient egyptians prrobably knew that a ceramic pot with joined copper and meteoric iron inserts in an electrolyte such as lemon or wine juice produced bubbles.

- it's also probable that they captured these in a container and found them to be explosive.

Looking at the Dendera Lights, there are a number of key components:

- A large box - let's say for the purposes of this theory that this contains a large number of "Baghdad Battery type vessels". Let's also assume the lid of the box is sealed with something like flour dough.

- Hose leading from the box to the appliance. For arguments sake, lets assume this is one or more ox intestines, covered in grease to make it air-tight, and whipped or bound onto the box.

- A central rod, in the form of a serpent, which could be made from a wooden or papyrus tube, covered in clay to make it air tight, and with some kind of narrow aperture at the end, such as made by a sharp thorn

The combination of these three items would produce a weak stream of hydrogen and oxygen gas, which burns at around 2,500°C.

Training this heat source onto limestone or better still quicklime, would produce limelight - see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limelight

This would be intense, blinding and dangerous, with many pitfalls that only experimentation with distance, focus, length of central rod etc would resolve.

A light shade of some form would threfore be needed, and papyrus could be used to construct something like a papier mache "bulb", which would not have to be airtight. Making this ornamental would be part of the mystique of such a device.

A method of fitting the shade over the clay/ceramic tube, a connector - again ornamental

So, from the images of the Dendera light:

- you have a light shade,

- a ceramic tube that trains a hydrogen/oxygen flame onto quickliime at the perfect distance

- an ornate connector for the shade to fit over the ceramic tube 

- a flexible tube to enable the gas mix to be delivered and the bulb to be carefully positioned

- an airtight box containing bubbling primitive batteries generating hydrogen and oxygen at low pressure

I believe this explanation might fit the images, using technology and materials that would have been present at the time.

Experimental archeologists might wish to try to replicate this before dismissing this completely.

 

  A series of  polished metal mirrors/reflector plates, which brought reflected sunlight into the inner rooms.  .

Didn't you ever  watch the " Scorpion King" and  "Mummy"  movies ?  :) 

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Occam's razor. The AE had access to a variety of vegetable oils that burn with an effectively smokeless flame.

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21 hours ago, The Silver Shroud said:

I don't think the Baghdad batteries are really batteries. And the Dendera lights aren't light bulbs either. Both sound fun theories but the supporting archaeological evidence is missing.I remember being very intrigued by Chariot of the Gods then later found out that one of the structures he had proposed was a 'landing strip' and was shown in the book was actually just a small relief- and he must have known this. 

Now this, on the other hand:

How-An-Astronaut-Carving-Exists-In-A-1500s-Cathedral1400a_5f2b905bb23e1.jpeg

Just another idol with a missing arm. I have always admired the men and women who venture into space. I would have tried to became an astronaut, but I'm afraid of heights, and falling, to be perfectly honest..

It's just a modern statue superimposed on older stone. They say to not believe in everything we read. I say, don't believe everything you see, too. Everybody knows you can't be an astronaut with only one arm. I wasn't born yesterday, you know. 

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5 hours ago, Oniomancer said:

Occam's razor. The AE had access to a variety of vegetable oils that burn with an effectively smokeless flame.

Yes castor oil is particularly good for that.

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5 hours ago, Oniomancer said:

Occam's razor. The AE had access to a variety of vegetable oils that burn with an effectively smokeless flame.

There is also another technique to protect a ceiling and walls from soot. You put up a fabric covering to catch the soot then remove it. You can also covered the stone ceiling with a thin layer of mud, it will dry, the smoke will attach itself to the mud and when the artists or masons are done they wash it away.

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Good suggestions folks for oil based lighting and protection of reliefs etc. Simple is often best.

However, am not convinced there's a clear explanation for what the "lights" were.

If an experimental archeologist produced a working version of a Dendera "limelight" using materials of the day, in a manner that looked like the images, would that be sufficient to convince the sceptics here? I suspect not. 

 

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On 11/23/2021 at 4:38 PM, Hanslune said:

Welcome to the Forum Mike

The translation of the writing associated with that piece of art

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dendera_light#Depictions_and_text

Most images cut the inscription out to make it look more mysterious

denderalights1.jpg

Context is important also it is found within the temple of Hathor

dendera_plan.jpg

 

 

I'm sure the context matters, I don't know what this one is. I have however stared at another heiroglyph that people say are UFOs or helicopters. It didn't make sense in my mind that it was a flying saucer even though it initially did look like one. I stared at it until my perception shifted and I realized it is probably the Sun on the horizon of some mountain or buildings.

abypanel.jpg

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11 minutes ago, The_Phantom_Stranger said:

I'm sure the context matters, I don't know what this one is. I have however stared at another heiroglyph that people say are UFOs or helicopters. It didn't make sense in my mind that it was a flying saucer even though it initially did look like one. I stared at it until my perception shifted and I realized it is probably the Sun on the horizon of some mountain or buildings.

 

For another explanation, try here, or here.

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On 11/23/2021 at 9:38 PM, Hanslune said:

 

denderalights1.jpg

 

 

I'm surprised that the djed element has not yet been described by the fringe as an alien robot

 

4698779600000578-0-Robby_the_Robot_from_

 

 

 

Robot.jpg

Edited by Wepwawet
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2 hours ago, Mike Fox said:

If an experimental archeologist produced a working version of a Dendera "limelight" using materials of the day, in a manner that looked like the images, would that be sufficient to convince the sceptics here? I suspect not. 

 

Of course not.

Recreating a picture into what one thinks it may be doesn't show that's what was depicted.

It would be a different story if they found a device that matched the hieroglyph and could show that it was capable of producing light.

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11 hours ago, Mike Fox said:

Good suggestions folks for oil based lighting and protection of reliefs etc. Simple is often best.

If an experimental archeologist produced a working version of a Dendera "limelight" using materials of the day, in a manner that looked like the images, would that be sufficient to convince the sceptics here? I suspect not. 

 

You'd need to find some sort of evidence that such a technology was created and used a depiction of it and a word used to describe it.

Black powder isn't that difficult to make (it is complicated to make really GOOD black powder but crude stuff will burn with even 'rough' components) yet as far as we can tell no one created it until 3000+ years  after the Old Kingdom in Egypt but one can take parts of the Pyramid Text to mean an explosion and wallah! You can make black powder - this wouldn't mean they had black powder.

Quote

However, am not convinced there's a clear explanation for what the "lights" were.

So, you don't like what the AE actually wrote about the images and the fact it was in a temple dealing with what? Personal incredulity isn't a really great piece of evidence. However, I'm personally incredulous of your personal incredulity.

Edited by Hanslune
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14 hours ago, Mike Fox said:

Good suggestions folks for oil based lighting and protection of reliefs etc. Simple is often best.

However, am not convinced there's a clear explanation for what the "lights" were.

If an experimental archeologist produced a working version of a Dendera "limelight" using materials of the day, in a manner that looked like the images, would that be sufficient to convince the sceptics here? I suspect not. 

 

Convince? 

I am not skeptical and it wouldn't convince me 

It is possible but  anything done today uses what we know from  accumulated knoweldge 

Just knowing this is possible makes it achievable 

Unless it was discovered by pure serendipity it is unlikely that such an invention would occur, disconnected from  all the other limits on science and knowledge of the time 

Eg as a 13 year old  in the early 60s i began experimenting with making gunpowder and other explosives  from basic chemicals

I was able to do this first because  i knew it could be done and because, even in the early 60s, I could slowly gather the information required to combine the right chemicals

After that, it was trial and error  to improve the explosive power, and to create other forms of pyrotechnics, by adding other elements ( Like powdered  magnesium)  to the basic mix, for special effects 

 

So, as a 13 yr old, I could make explosives from  basic constituents and  from bits i found in historical novels, and some basic science 

But even a very wise man from  2000 years ago could not have done this without a series of lucky coincidences  eg  noticing the chemical  reaction which sometimes occurred in piles of horse manure. 

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The 'Baghdad Battery' may, or may not, have been designed to generate a current.  (I believe it's possible it could have produced a voltage, but I doubt that was ever the intention.)  Regardless - any chemical reactions within would be metal-acid and would only generate hydrogen gas.

Hydrogen gas is highly flammable and difficult to control.  Here's Joe Biden at his most interesting:

 

showing that science doesn't have to be dull.1

The oxy-hydrogen blowtorch from post #9 requires a steady flow of hydrogen and oxygen in the perfect ratio 2:1.  This mixture is achieved by the prior electrolysis of water by a DC power supply.  Without this in-built oxygen supply the hydrogen must take oxygen from the air it's burning in, which gives a cooler flame (2045°C instead of 2660°C).  True - that's still pretty hot - but I don't know how effective that would be at generating the limelight effect.2

The power supply he's using is delivering 10 A at just 4 V.  Four Baghdad Batteries in series would create about 4 V but there's no way they could deliver 10 A.  His power supply can deliver 10 A because it's not restricted by internal resistance.  Batteries have significant internal resistance which is why they give small currents for long times.  To produce a useful current would have required hundreds or thousands of Baghdad Batteries connected in parallel, using (ideally) copper, silver or gold wires.  I can't see those on the Dendera image; it seems an odd detail to leave out.  

Without the constant pressure produced by a continuous power supply I cannot see how the chemical reactions between acids and metals could create a safe or dependable illumination.

Another point: if you had thousands of batteries, miles of wires and the idea to connect them in this way, it's inevitable you'd accidentally discover incandescent or arc lighting, negating the need to electrolyse water to drive an oxy-hydrogen torch in the first place.

You would also want to see what else this miraculous apparatus could do.  At the turn of the 19th century it took just 30 years from the invention of the battery to the first practical mechanical generator, then three more before electric motors appeared.  I imagine the AEs would have got there too?

Finally - technology like this would have left an indelible stamp on history.  It would leave far more traces than a single clay pot (c. 100 AD) and a stone relief (c. 50 BC).  

 

Science is fantastic and brilliant!  It takes real skill and determination to make it look this boring.

Another point that annoys me irrationally: incorrect use of the word explosive.  Hydrogen is not an explosive.  Apart from that I liked the blowtorch vid.

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20 hours ago, Tom1200 said:

I imagine the AEs would have got there too?

Not necessarily, to be fair. There's a lot of inventions that echoed much later technology but didn't catch on or advance for one reason or another. 

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I think the best example is that of the "steam turbine" invented by Heron. Potentially an invention that could have transformed the world 2,000 years or so before James Watt. But, his invention was just an executive toy as it needed many other technologies to be already in existance for a working steam engine to be viable. James Watt, on the other hand, while having the genuis idea, could only make a viable steam engine because all the other technologies for this to happen were already, mostly, in existance, and just needed to be applied correctly.

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