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

This 1,600-Year-Old Goblet Shows that the Romans Were Nanotechnology Pioneers | Archeology | Scoop.it

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.

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.


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Keith Mielke's curator insight, January 22, 2014 2:29 PM

This Article was very fascinating to me since I have such an intrest in engineering. It is amazing how Romans found this correlation between very finely ground particles and their combinations to create such an amazing piece of art and science.

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Declassified spy photographs reveal lost Roman frontier - Phys.Org

Declassified spy photographs reveal lost Roman frontier - Phys.Org | Archeology | Scoop.it
Corona satellite imagery of the wall. Declassified spy photography has uncovered a lost Roman Eastern frontier, dating from the second century AD. Research by archaeologists at the Universities of Glasgow and Exeter has identified a long wall that ran 60 kilometers from the Danube to the Black Sea over what is modern Romania. It is considered the most easterly example of a man-made frontier barrier system in the Roman Empire. Built in the mid-second century AD, 'Trajan's Rampart' as it is known locally, once stood 8.5m wide and over 3.5m high and included at least 32 forts and 31 smaller fortlets along its course. It is thought to have served a similar purpose to other Roman frontier walls, such as Hadrian's Wall, built to defend the Empire from threats to the borders. Trajan's Rampart actually consists of three separate walls of different dates; the 'Small Earthen Wall', the 'Large Earthen Wall' and the 'Stone Wall'. The constructions were previously known about, although wrongly thought to date to the Byzantine or Early medieval period.
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Joy Kinley's curator insight, September 4, 2013 11:17 AM

Using high tech to uncover the past.  The only problem is that we have to wait years for some of the material to become declassified.