One of the oldest lenses was discovered in the north of Iraq in the city of Nimrud. The lens was a piece of rock crystal, one side of which was flat and the other was convex. In all respects this object was like a magnifying lens, and these properties confirmed the physical analysis of the find.
This famous artifact made of rock crystal is in the British Museum.
Most visitors, amazed by the stone statues of kings, bas-reliefs, the first written cuneiform signs, stunning works of art from gold and gems, glance indifferently glance at the showcase with an oval piece of dull rock crystal on a wire stand.
Meanwhile, this inconspicuous exhibit deserves the closest attention. He is able to turn our ideas about the possibilities of one of the most ancient civilizations of mankind.
In 1850, the British archaeologist Leyyard unearthed the city of Nimrud in Persia (now ruins in the territory of modern Iraq), buried under a huge hill of clay and sand. For 1300 years before Christ. Here was the capital of King Nimrod, mentioned in the Bible.
The first find deeply shocked Leyard. The gates of the city were guarded by beautifully preserved stone sculptures of the Babylonian centaurs – half-half-half-people.
Then the finds fell down, as if from a cornucopia.
Among them was this scratched lens made of rock crystal, miraculously preserved under the ruins of a collapsed palace. It entered the history of archeology as a Nimrud lens or a Leyard lens.
Conservative European scholars are still cautiously suggesting that the artefact served as an ornamental decoration of the palace interior or dress.
Researchers made more bold experiments and found out that Leyard’s crystal lens is capable of concentrating sunlight and setting firewood on fire. It also became clear that the lens gives a threefold increase in distant objects.
But all skeptics from the official science refusing to believe in the optical application of the crystal Nimruda artifact. Moreover, for a simple telescope, two lenses are required. The easiest way to declare an artifact is a “ritual object of worship”, which the curators of the British Museum did.
However, in the field diaries of Leyard there are records that the lens was surrounded by decayed wood. It was clearly inserted in some device. Perhaps there was a second crystal lens that served as the eyepiece of the oldest Assyrian telescope (or perhaps the world’s first microscope?), But it either collapsed or was simply not found in ruins.