Mysterious Ancient Roman Nanotechnology - The Lycurgus Cup
The Lycurgus Cup is a 4th century Roman chalice made of a dichroic glass. Dichroic glass is glass that changes color depending on whether or not light is passing through it. The chalice changes from red to green depending on where the light strikes it. It is the only complete Roman glass object made from this type of glass. There are a few other fragments of Roman dichroic glass,but none like this particular glass. The chalice is unique, one of a kind.
The change of color from green to red is symbolic of the ripening of grapes, fitting for the chalice's theme. It is a depiction of King Lycurgus of Thrace entangled in grape vines. It wasn't until 1990 that scientists could examine fragments of the glass and found that nanotechnology had been used to create the chalice's color changing effect. Only recently has Corning Glass Works been able to reproduce a similar material that imitates the effect. This particular nanotechnology is something that we today with all our technolgy struggle to recreate. Scientists still don't know if the making of this dichroic glass was fully understood or if it was created accidentally. It would seem that the past holds many secrets and that there is still so much to be learned from ancient civilizations.