|Researchers claimed in 2009 to have found the first physical evidence of chemical weapons, dating from a battle fought in A.D. 256 at the ancient Roman fortress of Dura-Europos. They concluded that 20 Roman soldiers unearthed beneath the town's ramparts did not die of war wounds, but from poison gas.|
Dura-Europos is a fortress situated on a plateau looking out over the Middle Euphrates river.
|Ancient Persians were the first to use chemical weapons when they gassed Roman soldiers with toxic fumes. The Persians were lying in wait as the Romans dug a tunnel during a siege – then pumped in toxic gas – produced by sulphur crystals and bitumen – to kill the Romans in minutes.|
The mixture would have produced toxic gases including sulphur dioxide and complex heavy petrochemicals. The victims would have choked, passed out and then died.
|Poisoned arrows appear in classical literature. The epics of Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey both insinuate the use of the poisoned arrows in the Trojan War. The myths of Hercules also allude to the use of poisoned arrows; after he slew the Hydra he dipped his arrowheads in the venom. |
Scythians were famed for their poisoned arrows; the poison was a concoction of decomposed poisonous snakes and human blood incubated in a manure heap. One of the terms that the Greeks used to describe this poison was toxikon, which stemmed from toxon meaning a bow. Our modern word toxicology derives from this poison.