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1,600-Year-Old Goblet Shows that the Romans Were Nanotechnology Pioneers

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posted on Sep, 26 2013 @ 04:25 PM
This 1,600-Year-Old Goblet Shows that the Romans Were Nanotechnology Pioneers and Researchers have finally found out why the jade-green cup appears red when lit from behind

The colorful secret of a 1,600-year-old Roman chalice at the British Museum is the key to a super­sensitive new technology that might help diagnose human disease or pinpoint biohazards at security checkpoints.

To be honest I am reading Devil Colony by James Rowlins and wanted to search around a bit to discover if it is true, or even possible that nanotechnology could have been discovered long before the enlightened scientists of today. It was more than exciting to find this piece from the website...

The glass chalice, known as the Lycurgus Cup because it bears a scene involving King Lycurgus of Thrace, appears jade green when lit from the front but blood-red when lit from behind—a property that puzzled scientists for decades after the museum acquired the cup in the 1950s. The mystery wasn’t solved until 1990, when researchers in England scrutinized broken fragments under a microscope and discovered that the Roman artisans were nanotechnology pioneers: They’d impregnated the glass with particles of silver and gold, ground down until they were as small as 50 nanometers in diameter, less than one-thousandth the size of a grain of table salt. The exact mixture of the precious metals suggests the Romans knew what they were doing—“an amazing feat,” says one of the researchers, archaeologist Ian Freestone of University College London.

But did they know what they had discovered? If so there must be more evidence than this one piece right?

The ancient nanotech works something like this: When hit with light, electrons belonging to the metal flecks vibrate in ways that alter the color depending on the observer’s position. Gang Logan Liu, an engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who has long focused on using nanotechnology to diagnose disease, and his colleagues realized that this effect offered untapped potential. “The Romans knew how to make and use nanoparticles for beautiful art,” Liu says. “We wanted to see if this could have scientific applications.”

The original fourth-century A.D. Lycurgus Cup, probably taken out only for special occasions, depicts King Lycurgus ensnared in a tangle of grapevines, presumably for evil acts committed against Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. If inventors manage to develop a new detection tool from this ancient technology, it’ll be Lycurgus’ turn to do the ensnaring.

The early history of the cup is unknown however from the Wikepedia page I found this also interesting:
The early history of the cup is unknown, and it is first mentioned in print in 1845, when a French writer said he had seen it "some years ago, in the hands of M. Dubois".[38] This is probably shortly before it was acquired by the Rothschild family.[39] Certainly Lionel de Rothschild owned it by 1862, when he lent it to an exhibition at what is now the V&A Museum, after which it virtually fell from scholarly view until 1950. In 1958 Victor, Lord Rothschild sold it to the British Museum for £20,000, £2,000 of which was donated by the Art Fund (then the NACF).[40]


Ecclesiastes 1:9 reminds us “Whatever has happened, will happen again; whatever has been done, will be done again. There is nothing new on earth” (ISV).

Most people would agree that we live in an age of technological innovation. However, some recent archeological discoveries may prove that some of this new technology may have been discovered centuries or even millennia before, only to be lost, until now.

Take for example a 1,600 year old cup discovered in the 18th century. The Lycurgus Cup named after the king depicted on the glass from the sixth book of Homer’s Iliad has fascinated scientists for decades. The unique properties from the glass allow the cup to change its color. In direct light the glass of the cup resembles jade, but when the light shines through the glass the cup turns to a translucent ruby color. This unusual optical effect is called dichroic.

The cup resides at the British Museum. They acquired it in 1958 from Lord Rothschild, who had it in the family for almost a century. Various studies were done on the cup since 1950, but a recent study has uncovered a technology that was thought to be a 20th century discovery.

So where is the rest of this early nanotechnology? You would think that with as amazing as this color changing cup would have been, that there would have been a nano technological craze from that period onwards. Yet it seems to be the only documented piece discovered to date, why is that? What could have caused the discovery to be stopped at that one chalice?

Just wanted to share an interesting find.

edit on 26-9-2013 by antar because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 26 2013 @ 04:34 PM
reply to post by antar

This seems to suggest that we're the ones who are ignorant...amazing.

posted on Sep, 26 2013 @ 04:40 PM
This has been covered on ATS...

posted on Sep, 26 2013 @ 04:43 PM
reply to post by Blarneystoner

Thought I saw this before.
good catch.

posted on Sep, 26 2013 @ 05:03 PM
reply to post by antar

Awesome stuff, antar! I remember when I was in Venice at a crystal factory, they talked about how the use of gold powder in glass blowing had long been used to make goblets red. I think the difference is that technology has always existed but that we tend to use the terms surrounding technology for the most recent developments. It's nice to see them acknowledging that this is actually a form of nanotechnology because I think it gets rid of that idea that we've somehow grown progressively smarter as a species and that are forebears were somehow ignorant.

We talk about how clever Da Vinci was in schools but do we ever talk about Hero of Alexandria? The dude was amazing.

posted on Sep, 26 2013 @ 11:53 PM
reply to post by Blarneystoner

Ah thanks for that link I think I will mosey over and have a read on member comments, I find this truly amazing, what really gets to me is why we did not see much much more of this type of workmanship once they discovered the amazing quality of this process. Could they have thought that it was demon possessed because they had fashioned the goblets after the King who was notorious? If so who put an end to making more ? Probably a religious sect of that time. I dont know it is just mind blowing to me in many ways and leaves so many questions including how one of the most powerful families in history ended up with the piece. Remember Damascus steel? Another truly mysterious kind of long forgotten, secret art.

Oh and btw, that was not the first thread on the subject, none the less it is such an incredible topic and there are some wonderful comments on the thread link you shared, one member in particular has even seen the piece in person and had some top notch contributions to make on the thread.
edit on 27-9-2013 by antar because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 27 2013 @ 12:00 AM
I want one!

Alien Artisans...

It looks ceremonial, wine or blood drunken from this!

posted on Sep, 27 2013 @ 12:12 AM
From my original thought process in regards to the goblets being taken by a religious sect, and then a comment made on the other or second thread, this seems like another piece of this ancient nanotechnology puzzle. Check this out:

As I recently discussed, sometimes we need to look to the past for solutions to our current problems. Queensland University professor Zhu Huai Yong has done just that, noting that painting glass windows with gold particles can purify the air.

Zhu came across this realization after studying medieval painted church windows, which were often decorated using glass colored with gold nanoparticles.

Though people likely did not realize it at the time the churches were built, the sun-energized nanoparticles destroy air-borne pollutants, as sunlight creates an electromagnetic field that resonates with the gold particles’ oscillations.

While CO2 is a byproduct of the filtering process, it only occurs in small amounts and is not as harmful as volatile organic compounds that the nanoparticles destroy.

Zhu’s discovery isn’t just trivia fodder—the researcher believes that it could be applied to produce specialty chemicals at room temperature that are both cost-effective (despite the high price of gold) and have minimal environmental impact.


I am going to look deeper into this because I find it fascinating.

posted on Sep, 27 2013 @ 08:37 AM
Very similar 'technology' makes butterflys wings shiny in a flux of colors and vibrant effects.

How the Romans worked it out is beyond me though.

Did they keep adding mixtures till it worked? or was it a one off accident that they may have never even noticed themselves?

very nice find though

posted on Sep, 27 2013 @ 01:46 PM
reply to post by Biigs

Thanks, it seems like it could have been an accident at first, from what I have read so far back when glass was first reportedly discovered by mistake, it then became quite the impressive work to become glass makers. They used lots of different colors to make it as the discovery was being perfected. I would say that it was purely accidental when they combined the precious metals finely ground to make gold or silver but instead came up with this nanocolor.

What they probably did not know was that when they heated up the stained glass by the suns rays, it actually worked as an air purifier. It had properties which could sanitize and clean the air in the church or room where the solar rays hit by wrapping the tiny dust particles sanitizing them with the same purification as one would use colloidal silver for.

It is said that Phoenician sailors made the discovery on accident when placing their meals on top of the abundant nitrium and in the morning it had burned down, mixed with fine sand and the result was a flowing mass of what soon was to become the most secreted and popular technology created at first solely for the royals and the elites.

We have since discovered the healing power of gold and silver and though this may not be totally on topic it is an example worth learning about :

posted on Sep, 27 2013 @ 01:54 PM
Aother awesome thread! Im so interested in things like this! Wether by accident or on purpose, this has you thinking, and this is what ATS is about.


Thumbs up!

posted on Sep, 27 2013 @ 03:01 PM
Being able to produce dichro glass doesn't mean you know anything about nano-tech. Since it seems replies are implying otherwise I figured I'd just put up my reply from the other thread on this subject:

One thing that must be kept in mind, is the ability to make something doesn't imply you know why it's happening.

They ground up metal into fine dust and mixed it with glass. That's hardly profound. Today, we understand the actual scientific reasons these things happen, that doesn't mean they did, or that they did these things with the intent of creating such a result.

Old blacksmiths were able to form carbon nanotubes in steel. That does not imply they designed their method in order to create nanotubes, nor does it imply they were even aware of the existence of such a thing.

Same thing with maya blue, there isn't any mystery to it, we know exactly how to make it, and it's a simple process. It's properties are result of its ingredients, not magic of the maya. The ability to produce such a simple product doesn't imply you are aware of chemistry to the point where these ingredients were combined specifically to produce the properties that happen to exhibit.

The first person to create fire figured out if he rubbed two sticks together it made fire. He didn't understand (or need to) the complexities of rapid oxidation and chemical reactions in general in order to create fire.

These artifacts are definitely cool and interesting, but they in no way imply any sort of advanced ancient knowledge or abilities.

posted on Sep, 27 2013 @ 05:38 PM
Posted earlier here

Please add further comments to the ongoing discussion in the above linked thread.

**Thread Closed**

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