The mystery of the Roman Lycurgus Cup: Nanotechnology in the ancient world?
The British Museum holds a very beautiful ancient exhibit – the Roman Lycurgus Cup. But he is more famous for his unusual optical properties. Under normal lighting, the goblet appears yellowish-green, and in transmitted light it acquires a deep wine-red hue. Only in 1990, scientists were able to reveal the secret of these unique properties, but how could such an effect be achieved in ancient times? After all, these are the real nanotechnologies …
The cup is a so-called diatret – a double-walled bell covered with a figured pattern. Its height is 16.5, and its diameter is 13.2 centimeters.
The earliest found diatrets belong to the 1st century BC. n e., and their heyday reached its production in the III and IV centuries. Diatrets in that era were considered very expensive items and were available only to the rich. Continue reading