Chemical Weapons - Greek Fire Incendiary devices were standard weapons of war.
Kautilya 's " Arthashastra ", a statecraft manual of the same era, contains hundreds of recipes for creating poison weapons, toxic smokes, and other chemical weapons.
Ancient Greek historians recount that Alexander the Great encountered poison arrows and fire incendiaries in India at the Indus basin in the 4th century BC.
Arsenical smokes were known to the Chinese as far back as c. In the second century BC, writings of the Mohist sect in China describe the use of bellows to pump smoke from burning balls of toxic plants and vegetables into tunnels being dug by a besieging army. Other Chinese writings dating around the same period contain hundreds of recipes for the production of poisonous or irritating smokes for use in war along with numerous accounts of their use.
These accounts describe an arsenic -containing "soul-hunting fog", and the use of finely divided lime dispersed into the air to suppress a peasant revolt in AD. Spartan forces besieging an Athenian city placed a lighted mixture of wood, pitch, and sulfur under the walls hoping that the noxious smoke would incapacitate the Athenians, so that they would not be able to resist the assault that followed.
Sparta was not alone in its use of unconventional tactics in ancient Greece; Solon of Athens is said to have used hellebore roots to poison the water in an aqueduct leading from the River Pleistos around BC during the siege of Kirrha. Research carried out on the collapsed tunnels at Dura-Europos in Syria suggests that during the siege of the town in the third century AD, the Sassanians used bitumen and sulfur crystals to get it burning.
When ignited, the materials gave off dense clouds of choking sulfur dioxide gases which killed 19 Roman soldiers and a single Sassanian, purported to be the fire-tender, in a matter of two minutes. Having gained the wind of the French, he came down upon them with violence; and gassing a great quantity of quicklime, which he purposely carried on board, he so blinded them, that they were disabled from defending themselves.
Leonardo da Vinci proposed the use of a powder of sulfide, arsenic and verdigris in the 15th century: Chalk, fine sulfide of arsenic, and powdered verdegris may be thrown among enemy ships by means of small mangonelsand all those who, as they breathe, inhale the powder into their lungs will become asphyxiated.
It is unknown whether this powder was ever actually used. Even when fires were not started, the resulting smoke and fumes provided a considerable distraction. Although their primary function was never abandoned, a variety of fills for shells were developed to maximize the effects of the smoke.
Just three years later, August 27,the French and the Holy Roman Empire concluded the Strasbourg Agreementwhich included an article banning the use of "perfidious and odious" toxic devices. The modern notion of chemical warfare emerged from the midth century, with the development of modern chemistry and associated industries.
The first proposal for the use of chemical warfare was made by Lyon PlayfairSecretary of the Science and Art Departmentin during the Crimean War. He proposed a cacodyl cyanide artillery shell for use against enemy ships as way to solve the stalemate during the siege of Sevastopol.
It was considered by the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerstonbut the British Ordnance Department rejected the proposal as "as bad a mode of warfare as poisoning the wells of the enemy.
It is considered a legitimate mode of warfare to fill shells with molten metal which scatters among the enemy, and produced the most frightful modes of death. Why a poisonous vapor which would kill men without suffering is to be considered illegitimate warfare is incomprehensible.
War is destruction, and the more destructive it can be made with the least suffering the sooner will be ended that barbarous method of protecting national rights. No doubt in time chemistry will be used to lessen the suffering of combatants, and even of criminals condemned to death.
Later, during the American Civil WarNew York school teacher John Doughty proposed the offensive use of chlorine gas, delivered by filling a inch millimeter artillery shell with two to three quarts 1. The proposal was passed, despite a single dissenting vote from the United States.
The American representative, Navy Captain Alfred Thayer Mahanjustified voting against the measure on the grounds that "the inventiveness of Americans should not be restricted in the development of new weapons. Chemical weapons in World War I Gas casualties from the Battle of EstairesApril 10, A Smelling Case to allow officers to identify the gas by smell and thus act appropriately for protection and treatment The Hague Declaration of and the Hague Convention of forbade the use of "poison or poisoned weapons" in warfare, yet more thantons of gas were produced by the end of World War I.
The French were the first to use chemical weapons during the First World War, using the tear gases ethyl bromoacetate and chloroacetone. They likely did not realize that effects might be more serious under wartime conditions than in riot control.
It is also likely that their use of tear gas escalated to the use of poisonous gases. One of Germany's earliest uses of chemical weapons occurred on October 27,when shells containing the irritant dianisidine chlorosulfonate were fired at British troops near Neuve-Chapelle, France.
Official figures declare about 1. Of these, an estimated , casualties were civilians. Nearby civilian towns were at risk from winds blowing the poison gases through. Civilians rarely had a warning system put into place to alert their neighbors of the danger.
In addition to poor warning systems, civilians often did not have access to effective gas masks. On the sea floor, at low temperatures, mustard gas tends to form lumps within a "skin" of chemical byproducts.
These lumps can wash onto shore, where they look like chunks of waxy yellowish clay. They are extremely toxic, but the effects may not be immediately apparent.
Lenin's Soviet government employed poison gas in during the Tambov Rebellion. An order signed by military commanders Tukhachevsky and Vladimir Antonov-Ovseyenko stipulated: This must be carefully calculated, so that the layer of gas penetrates the forests and kills everyone hiding there.Timeline: Weapons technology.
A thorough analysis of projectile points from archaeological digs around the world suggests that projectile weapons were not in a military submarine, for a.
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A weapon may be a shock weapon, held in the hands, such as the club, mace, or sword. The history of weapons of war is treated in the article military technology. Learn More in these related Britannica articles: military technology: The.
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