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Arrow poisons from plants
Arrow poisons are used to poison arrow heads or darts for the purposes of hunting.
Poisoning arrows was & is practiced everywhere except in Australia
Monkshood, Ranunculaeceae. Used since time of Neanderthals.
For shooting wild beasts, the tubers of Aconitum are boiled in water.
Resulting liquid, viscous and poisonous, is smeared on sharp
arrowheads for the quick killing of both human beings and animals.
in the jungles of Assam, Burma & Malaysia, main plant sources are
Antiaris, Strychnos & Strophanthus
Caribs of the Caribbean used poisons made from the latex of the
Manchineel tree (Hippomane mancinella) or Sandbox Tree (Hura
crepitans), both members of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae
In Africa arrow poisons are made from plants that contain cardiac
glycosides, such as Acokanthera (possessing ouabain), oleander
(Nerium ol), milkweeds (Asclepias), Strophanthus, rosary pea
Curare for preps containing tubocurarine derived from the bark of
Strychnos toxifera, Chondrodendron tomentosum or Sciadotenia
toxifera . Curare is a blocks nicotinic acetylcholine receptors on the postsynaptic membrane of the neuromuscular junction actiong as a muscle
relaxant that can paralyze the respiratory system.
Arrow poisons from animals
Arrow poisons are used to poison arrow heads or darts for
hunting. was & is practiced everywhere except in Australia
Arrow frogs. The poison is generally collected by
roasting the frogs over a fire, but the batrachotoxins
are powerful enough to dip the dart in the back of the
frog without killing it
Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert use arrow poison
is derived from the larva of beetles of the genus
Diamphidia. It is applied to the arrow either by
mixing it with plant sap to act as an adhesive, The
toxin is slow attacking and large animals can survive
4–5 days before succumbing to the effects. Also
plants like Adenium.
Holthouse's book "Cannibal Cargoes" describes a canoe, with
body of a man rotting in the sun for putrefaction to collect.
Wounds with tetanus infection by tetanospasmin, a neurotoxin
produced by obligate anaerobic bacterium Clostridium tetani. As
the infection progresses, muscle spasms develop in the jaw
Arrow poisons from plants
Arrow poisons are used to poison arrow heads or darts for
hunting. was & is practiced everywhere except in Australia
contains a cardiac glycoside
named antiarin, which is used
Arrow frogs. The poison is generally collected by
as an arrow poison called
roasting the frogs over a fire, but the batrachotoxins
upas: UPAS tree
are powerful enough to dip the dart in the back of the
frog without killing it
Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert use arrow poison
is derived from the larva of beetles of the genus
Diamphidia. It is applied to the arrow either by
mixing it with plant sap to act as an adhesive, The
toxin is slow attacking and large animals can survive
4–5 days before succumbing to the effects. Also
plants like Adenium.
Holthouse's book "Cannibal Cargoes" describes a canoe, with
body of a man rotting in the sun for putrefaction to collect.
Wounds with tetanus infection by tetanospasmin, a neurotoxin
produced by obligate anaerobic bacterium Clostridium tetani. As
the infection progresses, muscle spasms develop in the jaw
Arrow poisons for Homo sapiens – the enemy
Hunting with
bow and arrow
occurred when
few people &
lots of prey was
around
Killing human
competitors with
bow and arrow
when too many
people around to
sustain hunting.
War is the
systematic killing
competitors from
the same species is
human, occurs only
in Homo sapiens
Biological warfare in the history of our World
Greeks considered Gauls, Scythians and NAfricans as
barbarians partly because they used poisonous projectiles.
In Greek
toxicon = poison, toxon = arrow
helenion & minon unidentified arrow poisons of the Dacians
hellebores or Christmas roses were used as arrow poisons
buttercup Helleborus orientalis & lily representative Veratrum
album plants not easy to gather: causing sneezing & blisters,
hellebores were used as panacea since they had an immediate
purgative effect.
Aconitum = monkshood was another arrow poison of the Gauls
(and even the Neanderthals 50 000 years before them). Also
moors used it against the Spaniards in the 12 century. Gauls rapidly
pulled arrow out of the prey.
Hyoscyamus = henbane another badly smelling weed used by the Gauls
powerful alkaloids hyoscyamine & scopolamine cause seizures,
psychosis & death. used on arrows against other humans in war.
Adrienne Mayor: Greek fire, poison arrows & scorpion bombs. Biological and
chemical warfare in the ancient world. The overlook Press, Woodstock,USA
Biological warfare in the history of our World
Conium maculatum = hemlock juice containing coniine was
used on Scythian arrows where it is active for many days.
Belladonna = deadly nightshade was known as strychnos to the Romans
(today Strychnos is a genus of trees occurring both in SAm and Asia) it was
used as a drug smeared upon your spear or lance (Pliny the elder reported use
by Roman soldiers and auxillaries) where it is active for > 30 years.
Taxus baccata = yew is a gloomy tree
with berries (= cones) containing alkaloids
& sudden death by stopping the heart.
Rhododendron sap was known as alternative
arrow poison containing neurotoxin that can
be extracted from flowers, but also presented
as poisonous food in the form of honey.
Scythian archers with poisonous darts
(snake venom) defeated Persian army
under Darius, + 333 BC the Grand army of
Alexander the Great, & even a Roman one.
Biological warfare in the history of our World
590 BC Destruction of the town Kirrha during the First
Sacred war to protect the Oracle of Delphi. The water pipes to
the besieged town were cut off and then resembled providing
water poisoned with hellebore plants. Weakened by diarrhea
the defenders were too distracted to hold the walls
Pestilencia manu factq = man-made pestilences shows awareness to be under
biological attacks by external and internal enemies; e.g. Christians suspected to
burn Rome under Nero in order to speed up the prophesized end of the world.
Emperor Marcus Aurelius died from Babylonian plague in AD 180, in 189 AD
2000 people/day died in Rome similar to US 2001 scare of anthrax.
Babylonian plague 165-180 AD was witnessed by Galen
(Î smallpox). Roman expedition against Parthians. 164
AD Temple of Apollo in Greek city of Seleuceia at the
Tigris river was ransacked by Roman soldiers under Cassius
A golden chest was opened in the temple and …..Greek
temples of Apollo had white rodents & some priests like
Nicander were leading toxicologists. Thousands of Romans
perished including the remarkable emperor Marcus Aurelius
Temples were
depositories of
toxins, pathogens
& vaccines
The End of Rome due to Bio-weapons?
Romans were alert to biological attacks by external and internal
enemies:
Î Christians attempted to burn Rome under Nero in order to
speed up the prophesized end of the world. The Great Fire of
Rome July 19, AD 64 burned for five days destroying 10 of the
14 districts of Rome.
Babylonian plague 165-180 AD was witnessed by Galen (Î
smallpox. Roman expedition against Parthians. 164 AD
Temple of Apollo in Greek city of Seleuceia at the Tigris
river was ransacked by Roman soldiers under Cassius A
golden chest was opened in the temple ……….
Thousands of Romans perished including the remarkable
emperor Marcus Aurelius
2000 people/day died in Rome similar to US 2001 scare of
anthrax. Emperor Marcus Aurelius died from Babylonian
plague in AD 180, in 189 AD
No trace of the Empire in the 5th century!
455 After new Emperor breaks
marriage proposal Vandals plunder
Rome for 2 weeks
Biological warfare in the history of our World
Indians invented a special assassination weapon- poison
maidens. They send dancing girls contact with whom = death.
Alex the Great was a chosen recipient of such a girl in 327 BC.
Pontic honey = was used by the ancient Georgians (Colchis,
Pontus) to poison Pompey’s Roman soldiers which were
pursuing Mithridates to the Crimea. Mithridates was a
Greek king & a leading toxicilologist. He designed the
universal antidote to prevent himself from being poisoned.
When he killed himself with poison – his end was painful.
World war 1 & 2: Churchill uses poisonous gas against the
Kurds when Britain occupied Iraq in 1918. Later repeated
by Saddam Hussein after armistice with US. During WWII
CSS/CIA tried to pacify Hitler by injecting female hormones
into his veggies (he was a belligerent vegetarian and antialcoholic). 2002 Pentagon develops mind-altering pacifying
volatiles that can be sprayed or shot with bullets/grenades.
This can be used against a population mixed with terrorists.
Greek Fire
Roasting limestone CaCO3 produces a crumbling residue of CaO calcium
oxide or quicklime. When this is sprinkled with water it will turn into Ca
hydroxide CaOH and develop heat with the potential of self ignition. The
combination of quicklime & sulfur was creating self-igniting materials
Incendiary coating of arrows = were
made from resins, tar, petroleum & sulfur.
Smokes: Chinese have devised burning mixtures with sulfur and arsenic
that were used to kill large infestations of insects. They also developed the
smoke ball for warfare. One successful receipt was to mix pine resin,
charcoal and sulfur with powdered root of Aconitum monkshood, croton
beans (cathartic purgative from Euphorbia fam.), hallucinogenic
hemp, etc.
Alum is a bisulfate of potassium and aluminum known to the ancient sailors to
fire-proof the wood of their ships against attacks with napalm in the form of
Greek fire. A means to fire-proof materials or to extinguish fires was vinegar
(at that time sour vine). Alternatively, when sour wine was poured over hot
rocks of limestone or marble in a siege, these rocks would disintegrate.
Toxins of Chemical & Biological Warfare
Chemical warfare = is the use of poisonous drinks and
gases and incendiary materials like napalm or Greek fire.
Smoking arrows and balls: Chinese devised burning mixtures
with sulfur and arsenic that were used to kill infestations of insects.
They developed smoke balls for warfare. One successful receipt was
to mix pine resin, charcoal and sulfur with powdered root of
Aconitum monkshood, croton beans (cathartic purgative from
euphorbia fam.), hallucinogenic hemp
Biological warfare = is the use of living organisms as weapons such as bacteria,
viruses, elephants, war dogs, horses, wasp nests, toxins from plants and animals as in
arrow poisons and catapulted ammunition.
Diodorus describes Alexander’s Army encountering war
elephants of Indian King Porus and the siege of Harmatelia
(todays SW Pakistan) in 326 BC. The warriors had smeared their
spears swords and arrows with snake venom from Vipera russelli.
The wounded Greeks went numb, exper convulsions, vomited bile
and a purple-green gangrene to horr. death. After a plant was
found as antidote “by Alex” the Greeks defeated the barbarians.
Toxins in Biological Warfare
198 AD emperor Septimius Severus began 2nd Parthian war for
Mesopotamia he failed to take two desert strongholds in today’s Hatra (near
modern Mosul in Iraq): a double-walled fortress with 90 large + 163 small
defense towers surrounded by desert. When the Romans breached the first
wall & ascended the second one, clay pots rained upon them. Shattering they
released deadly insects that stung the soldiers into eyes and exposed skin
(Herodian). Why did the Romans give up so fast & close to victory???
Romans were exposed to heat, double-shot catapults , poisonous
insects, and burning naphta – a refined oil form the desert.
Assassin bugs Reduvidae are predatory bloodsucking insects that inject
lethal neurotoxins into the victim liquefying the tissue. Favorite biotool of
antique rulers for torture. US developed a human tracking device during
Vietnam war which was based on the sound a bug emits when he detects
humans at a distance of 500 yards . Scorpions can fly in strong winds
(Pliny). Some scorpions have deadly poison. They exhaust their poison
when attacked with sticks etc. , can then be collected and recover their
poison within a day. Aelian reports that you can sprinkle scorpions with
Aconite powder upon which stunts & shrivels them temporarily. They can
be revived by sprinkling them with white hellebore powder.
Greek Fire
Fire darts shot from bows (Marcellinus 4 th century AD):
hollow cane shafts reinforced with iron and punctured with holes
for oxygen access were filled with bitumen (petroleum products
like asphalt, tar, naphta, & nat oil). The effect was enormous
against cavalry and war elephants. Fire lances of China (900 AD)
were bamboo tubes filled with charcoal sulphur, saltpeter thrown
towards the enemy acting like a 2 min flame thrower
Lucan (1st century AD) torches dipped in oil & sulphur were thrown
onto ships – Roman naval torches were the Molotov cocktail of antiquity.
Siege of Syracuse: Greek Scientist Archimedes had
soldiers polish their bronzen shields and focus the sun rays
upon Roman ships blockading the harbor. 1975 experiment
was repeated by I Sakkas. 60 sailors with shield-like
mirrors ignited a wooden ship at 50 m distance.
Noxious smokes from burning feathers (Asia) , pepper
seeds ( Am), sulphur (SO2, lime dust (CaCO3) were used
during tunneling warfare (attacker tried to tunnel under
the walls and have them collapse).
Incendiary Warfare -Resins
Plant-derived incendiaries: Pine pitch – flammable resin tapped
from conifers. Later resin was distilled to turpentine. Resin fires
burn hot and stick to their target. Arrows can be dipped into resin
before igniting & firing them. Later sulphur (brimstone =
burning stone found near volcanoes and hot springs) & charcoal
were added for endurance (Spartans, Chinese). No other
substance is as easily ignited as sulphur (Pliny). Burning sulphur
creates acrid smelling SO2 – a poisonous gas. Chinese added
saltpeter = nitrates.
Burning arrows & catapult spears advanced into hollow cane tubes (Chinese
fire lance) filled with resin + later bitumen causing great carnage (see use in
battle against some Germanic tribes shown in Hollywood’s “Gladiator” )
Naval varnish: colophon = black residue of turpentine (tar) boiled down
with sharp vinegar. Ignites ships caulking and burns on the water surface.
212 BC engineer mathematician Archimedes of Syracuse devised heat rays
against Romans by using polished bronze mirrors to inflame Roman ships.
1972 Greek engineer Sakkas repeated this with 60 mirrors for ship 50 m away.
Greek Fire
Roasting limestone CaCO3 produces a crumbling residue of CaO calcium oxide
or quicklime. When this is sprinkled with water it will turn into Ca hydroxide
and develop heat with the potentil of selfignition. The combination of
quicklime & sulfur was creating self-ignitng materials
Incendiary coating of arrows = were
made from resins, tar, petroleum & sulfur.
Smokes: Chinese have deviced burning mixtures with sulfur and arsenic that
were used to kill large infestations of insects. They also developed smoke ball
for warfare. One successful receipt was to mix pine resin, charcoal and sulfur
with powdered root of Aconitum monkshood, croton beans (cathartic
purgative from euphorb fam.), hallucinogenic hemp,
Alum is a bisulfate of potassium and aluminum. known to the ancient
sailors to fire-proof the wood of their ships against attacks with napalm in
the form of Greek fire. A means to fire-proof materials or to extinguish fires
was vinegar (at that time sour vine). When sour wine was poured over hot
rocks of limestone or marble in a siege, these rocks would disintegrate.
Greek Fire
Pyr automaton or self-igniting fire was a new line of weapons
around 70 BC. Sulphur (brimstone), quicklime and bitumen were
combined for pyrotechnic tricks. Torches drenched in sulphur, tar &
quicklime were thrown into the Tiber River while continuing to burn!
Julius Africanus (170 AD) sulphur, salt resin, charcoal,
asphalt & quicklime are mixed into a paste which is smeared at
night on the siege engines. Dew in the morning will ignite it
Fountains of fire: Oil pits and lakes existed in ancient Mesopotamia,
Arabia and the black sea. Baba Gurgur in today’s Iraq had burned
continously from 660 BC to 1927 AD.
Islamic armies had units of “naffatuns” responsible for
shooting naphta projectiles into burning cities. 1190 siege
of crusader castle Acre naffatuns shot naphta grenades &
then ignited them by burning arrows.
Naffatuns wore protective clothing containing asbestos
fibers Î sued their leader for lung cancer damage
Greek Fire
Kallinikos (513 AD) fled Muslim occupation of Syria to Constantinople
where he designed a new weapon for the Roman Navy – Greek fire. It
broke the naval siege of the Muslims in AD 673 & 718. Kallinikos’ great
feat of engineering is lost to modern science and history.
Greek fire was the ultimate weapon of the
time. There was no real countermeasure
(protecting ship boards with wet hides). It was
equivalent to modern napalm by thickening
the petroleum with resin etc.
One of many possibilities of design of the
secret naphta weapon of the Byzantine Navy