Thursday, February 20, 2014

Very Early Chemical Warfare...!

Come to find out, the early governments were pretty handy at finding new ways of inflicting suffering and death on their enemies, long before modern man.

You would hope that somewhere down the line, we would have developed more of a sense of moral right, but I reckon that is wishing for too much. Our brutality toward our fellow man is only getting worse, if you ask me. I guess that finding new and better ways to kill is just in our jeans. Pretty sad, I'd say!

Chemical Weapons Got Their Start In Ancient Rome
By Debra Kelly on Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Use of and the threat of chemical agents used in modern warfare have sent governments worldwide scrambling for a way to regulate the use and possibility of chemical warfare. It’s not a new idea, however, and archaeologists have found evidence that the idea of using poison gas as a weapon dates to about A.D. 256, when it was first used in what is now Syria.

The use of poison gas was outlawed with the Geneva Protocol in 1925, and it turns out that it took mankind almost 17 centuries to do it.

The first evidence of chemical warfare comes from an area of Roman-controlled Syria in the year A.D. 256 and it was engineered by the Persians. The city of Dura-Europos was situated on the Euphrates River, and was a Roman sanctuary surrounded by the Persian Empire. This obviously didn’t sit well with the Persians, who laid siege to the Roman city in an attempt to recover control.

One of the methods used was the construction of tunnels beneath the Roman walls. The Romans also began digging their own tunnels in order to counter their attackers, but the Persians had the upper hand. It’s thought that they heard the movements of the Romans and could judge where they were going to be, so they prepared a deadly mixture of sulfur and bitumen. Once ignited, the burning chemicals would fill the tunnels with a deadly gas, probably helped along from Persians safely outside and armed with bellows. (That’s still an unconfirmed part of the excavation, and with no written records to tell exactly what happened inside and outside the walls, it’s unlikely to be anything but conjecture.) What is known, though, is that with the Persian tunnel lying below the Roman one, a naturally-formed chimney effect was likely to have also helped the process along.

And what they set out to do is exactly what they did. Excavations have uncovered piles of Roman bodies, still clad in armor, still in the tunnels where they died. There was also the discovery of a single Persian warrior, laying apart from the others, who had most likely been the one to set the fires in the first place and become one of the first victims to the deadly gas.

The Romans themselves were known for using strategically placed piles of gypsum powder near the entrances to enemy tunnels and outside enemy walls, rendering the air un-breatheable with a good gust of wind. Similar techniques were used by the Chinese in A.D. 178, with limestone-filled chariots instead of piles of gypsum; the result of the circling chariots was dust-filled air that was even more potent than modern tear gas. These early predecessors to chemical warfare set the tone and sparked ideas.

In 1346, the Crimean city of Caffa was brought to its knees when disease-ridden corpses were hurled over their walls by catapults manned by besieging Tartars. The corpses were bodies of those that had been killed by the plague, introducing it to the city in early germ warfare.

Although it took until 1925 for chemical warfare to be outlawed in modern warfare, the Geneva Protocol isn’t the first time people have come together to agree that chemical warfare is less than noble. A Hindu code of laws dating from the fifth century B.C. outlaws the use of poison arrows, and an Indian treatise written in the fourth century B.C. outlined procedures for creating deadly gases and toxins. It also warned against their use, however, stating very clearly that they were only a last resort and there were better ways to win a battle.

Even though we in modern times were not the first, it seems to me that we continue to carry on the traditions in chemical warfare started so long ago. If anything we struggle everyday to find ways of improving on what our ancestors started. Sadly, we have made more than a few improvements in the brutal art of killing!

This article came to us from the fine folks over at KnowledgeNuts! Thanks, guys!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. More sunshine and temps at close to 80!


Chickenmom said...

Tunnels still seem to be very popular - in the Mid East and on our own boarders. Guess they know history better than we do! We won't see 80 degrees until July!

linda m said...

It boggles my mind that we are so intent on killing each other. And the horrendous ways we come up to do that task are also mind boggling. I feel that another persons death should be left up to a "higher power". Snowing here again - 80 degrees seems a long way off.

Rob said...

Man's ingenuity in slaughtering other men seems to have been a constant over the years.

Human nature?

JO said...

The dead bodies was a bit much they didn't even respect their own dead. It's been a sick world forever it seems.

Pass the pot please.

Dizzy-Dick said...

You can't convince me that some treaty that outlaws the use of poison gas can be enforced without first conquering the offending army or nation. War is hell!!

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
Guess that tunnel construction has always been a good way to sneak up on your enemy!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Linda M...
Seems to be one thing that we are really good at!

Thanks for coming by this morning!

Hey Rob...
I'd say that you are 100% correct about that!

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Jo...
Can't expect folks that use poison gas to have any respect for anything!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming over today!

Hey Dizzy...
I have to agree with you on that one, buddy!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Mamahen said...

Sorry I got here late....Man has always had a passion for finding new ways to wipe out our fellow man it seems...52 here today but temps are headed back to the freezing mark in the next 24 hrs....80 seems like an unobtainable goal at this point...