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Ancient Greek military science. WMD?

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Yiannis View Drop Down
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  Quote Yiannis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Ancient Greek military science. WMD?
    Posted: 18-Oct-2005 at 14:32

There's an international conference happening as we speak, in Athens, on the above mentioned topic.

So far they conclude that the ways the ancients had in their disposal while conducting war are more than we imagine today.

They have identified biological & chemical weapons, used to poison, burn or contaminate enemies. Small mammals, snakes & germs such as plague were used for this purpose. Toxic substances were used, such as Mandragoras, a mineral called kinnavarites, incendiary substances were hurled by catapults, such as naphtha, asphalt or ceramic incendiary grenades equipped with fuses (similar to Molotov cocktails).

Greek fire, was supposivelly made of naphtha and tar, in order for it to attach to the enemy target without dispersing, similar to napalm.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find more info on the matter or reports from ancient sources. Can you?

 

This is the conference's site: http://portal.tee.gr/portal/page?_pageid=238,1,238_5405576&a mp;a mp;a mp;_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL92  (for some reason some links open only if you "right click"-> open in new window")

 

 



Edited by Yiannis
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  Quote Spartakus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Oct-2005 at 14:38

Damn,we were good.....

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  Quote Alkiviades Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Oct-2005 at 17:02
περασμένα μεγαλεία και διηγώντας τα να κλαις... 
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  Quote Phallanx Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Oct-2005 at 20:01
Here's an article I have copied of the Discovery Channel


Biological Weapons Date To Classic Age

The legendary Trojan War was won with the help of poisoned arrows, in one of the first attempts of biological warfare, according to the first historical study on the origins of bio-terrorism and chemical weapons.

"In this celebrated epic poem about noble heroes fighting honorable battles, both sides actually used arrows dipped in snake venom," said Adrienne Mayor, author of "Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World" (published this month by Overlook Press).

Mayor, a classical folklorist in Princeton, N.J., gathered evidence from various archaeological finds and more than fifty ancient Greek and Latin authors, revealing that biological and chemical weapons — horrible even by modern standards — did see action in antiquity.

Toxic honey, water poisoned with drugs, scorpion bombs, choking gases, conflagrations and incendiary weapons similar to modern napalm were widely used in historical battles. Among victims and perpetrators of biochemical warfare were prominent figures such as Hannibal, Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great.

"The first place we see the use of any kinds of poisons is in the story of how Hercules, the super hero of Greek myth, slew the gigantic, poisonous water-serpent Hydra. He dipped his arrows in the monster's venom, creating the first biological weapon described in Western literature," Mayor said.

The "Iliad" provides several clues to primitive biological warfare. Written about 700 B.C., the poem centers on the war between the Greeks (or Achaeans) and the Trojans, thought to have happened around 1250 B.C.

Through memorable episodes, the poem tells the legendary 10-year siege of Troy by King Menelaus of Greece, who sought to rescue his wife Helen from her abductor prince Paris.

"Several passages hint strongly that poisoned weapons were wielded by warriors on the battlefield, although Homer never said so outright. When Menelaus was wounded by a Trojan arrow, for example, the doctor Machaon rushed to suck out the "black blood." This treatment was the emergency remedy for snake bite and poisoned arrow wounds in real life," Mayor wrote.

Indeed, snake venom does cause black, oozing wounds. The snake species used in the Trojan War were vipers as their dried venom remains deadly for a long time when smeared on an arrowhead.

"I think it is entirely possible that what we would now call biological weapons were used by warriors in antiquity. My favorite example is Odysseus, whose weapon of choice was arrows smeared with poison," Robert Fagles, chairman of the Department of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, and translator of the "Iliad," told Discovery News.

Indeed, Odysseus, the archer renowned for crafty tricks, was the first mythic character to poison arrows with plant toxins, Mayor said. Homer recounts that he sailed to Ephyra, in western Greece, on a quest for a lethal plant — probably aconite — to smear on his bronze arrowheads.

According to Mayor, the possibilities for creating arrow poisons from natural toxins were myriad in the ancient world: "There were at least two dozen poisonous plants that could be used to treat arrows. The most commonly used toxins came from aconite (monkshood or wolfbane), black hellebore (the Christmas rose of the buttercup family), henbane (Hyoscamus niger), hemlock, yew berries and belladonna (deadly nightshade)," she said.

Other toxic substances used for arrows and spears included venomous jellyfish, poison frogs, dung mixed with putrified blood, the toxic insides of insects, sea urchins and stingray spines. Odysseus himself was killed by a spear tipped with a stingray spine, wielded by his estranged son by the witch Circe.

"This is an important contribution to the history of chemical and biological weapons. Mayor makes a convincing case that these weapons have roots deep in human prehistory, and that they were actually used," biochemical warfare expert Mark Wheelis of University of California, Davis, told Discovery News.

Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

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  Quote Seko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Oct-2005 at 20:50
Even though poisoned arrows have been around for ages, it's still amazing that mankind never lacks the ingenuity to come up with sophisticated killing devices.
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Oct-2005 at 08:32
The Mongols transmitted the Black Death to Europe by hurling infected corpses from their army into the besieged city of Kaffa with catapults. It wouldn't surprise me if the ancients did the same.
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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Oct-2005 at 13:59
I forget the time and place, but Genghis Khan once took a city by setting fire to thousands of cats and birds and letting them loose inside the city, turning it into an inferno. Ok, so he didn't so much 'take' the city as he did 'destroy' it, but you understand how clever this was.
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  Quote vulkan02 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Oct-2005 at 15:47
The Romans(and possibly others as well) used to throw bee hives to other ships during naval warfare so yeah thats considered biological warfare. Even the braves warrior can't take on a swarm of bees stinging all over 
The beginning of a revolution is in reality the end of a belief - Le Bon
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Oct-2005 at 18:46
My personal favourite was a tale of a medieval Vietnamese battle. The general tied oil-soaked bundles of hay to the tails of thousands of oxen. Assembled before the enemy, his soldiers then lit the hay bundles, send the blindly infuriated beasts smashing into the enemy formation. The disorganised enemy troops were then easy pickings and faced utter defeat. I must say this one in particular is one of my favourite battle-field tricks.
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