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Thread: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

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    Default Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...l-weapons.html


    Ancient Persians who gassed Romans were the first to use chemical weapons
    Ancient Persians were the first to use chemical weapons when they gassed Roman soldiers with toxic fumes 2,000 years ago, researchers have discovered.


    Last Updated: 9:04PM GMT 14 Jan 2009
    Ancient Persians who gassed Romans were the first to use chemical weapons
    Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare after studying the bodies of 20 Roman soldiers Photo: AP

    Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare yet after studying the bodies of 20 Roman soldiers' found underground in Syria 70 years ago.

    Clues left at the scene revealed 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 all the Romans in minutes.

    Dr Simon James, who solved the mystery, said: "It's very exciting and also quite gruesome. These people died a horrible death.

    "The mixture would have produced toxic gases including sulphur dioxide and complex heavy petrochemicals. The victims would have choked, passed out and then died.

    "I believe this is the oldest archaeological evidence of chemical warfare ever found. This is the beginning of a particularly nasty history of killing that continues up to the modern day."

    Dr James, a researcher at the University of Leicester who presented his discoveries to a meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, said the 20 soldiers died not by the sword or spear but through asphyxiation.

    They had been part of a large Roman garrison defending the empire outpost city of Dura-Europos, on the Euphrates river in modern day Syria, against a ferocious siege by an army from the powerful new Sassanian Persian empire in around AD 256.

    There are no historical texts describing the siege but archaeologists have pieced the action together after excavations in the 1920s and 1930s, which have been renewed in recent years.

    Evidence shows the Persians used the full range of ancient siege techniques to break into the city, including mining operations to dig under and breach the city walls.

    Roman defenders responded with 'countermines' to thwart the attackers. It was in one of these narrow, low galleries that a pile of 20 Roman soldiers was found, apparently stacked up neatly and still with their weapons, in the 1930s.

    Dr James returned to the 'cold case' mystery while also conducting new fieldwork at the site in an effort to understand exactly how they died and came to be lying where they were found.

    He said: "It is evident that, when mine and countermine met, the Romans lost the ensuing struggle.

    "Careful analysis of the disposition of the corpses shows they had been stacked at the mouth of the countermine by the Persians, using their victims to create a wall of bodies and shields, keeping Roman counterattack at bay while they set fire to the countermine, collapsing it and allowing the Persians to resume sapping the walls.

    "But this doesn't explain how they died. For the Persians to kill twenty men in a space less than two metres high or wide, and about 11 metres long, required superhuman combat powers – or something more insidious."

    Finds from the tunnel revealed that the Persians used bitumen and sulphur crystals to get the fire burning – and this was to prove the vital clue.

    Dr James believes the Persians placed braziers and bellows in their gallery, and when the Romans broke through, they added the chemicals to the fire and pumped choking clouds of dense, poisonous gas into the Roman tunnel.

    Dr James said: "The Roman assault party were unconscious in seconds, dead in minutes. The Persians must have heard the Romans tunnelling and prepared a nasty surprise for them.

    "This is the most likely explanation of how they came to die in such a small space.

    "There are ancient history texts that mention Greeks using a technique like this against the Romans, using smoke generators in a tunnel, but this is the first physical evidence of this actually happening.

    "One of the surprising things is that people tend to think these eastern empires were not very good at siege warfare.

    "But quite clearly the Sassanian Persians were just as good as the Romans."
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  2. #2
    Marzbān-ī Jundīshāpūr Member The Persian Cataphract's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    The possibility of using a form of "chemical warfare" in the sapped tunnels encountered at Dura Europos has been discussed for years mainly because of the traces of bitumen and sulphur crystals, but it seems that the debate has reached something of a conclusion.

    I would however opt for improvised usage of materials otherwise meant to be used to break through the walls; there is still one dead Persian in those mines.

    Nice find
    Last edited by The Persian Cataphract; 01-15-2009 at 19:12.


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    Member Member KozaK13's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    How did the persian end up there?

    Would poisoning wells or other water supplies be under scorched earth or chemical warfare?

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    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    A mine, also sometimes known as a sap. Dug under the walls of the besieged fortress and then deliberately collapsed to bring down sections of the circular defense (IIRC, didn't Dura apparently surrender after a whole section of the wall was lost to such and it became clear the next Persian assault would carry the fortress...?). Standard defender SOP to deal with such was to dig their own countermine to attack and destroy the approaching sap, which was wont to lead to some rather claustrophobic underground melees.

    Engineers could also get seriously diabolically creative if they had access to suitable tools of applied chemistry, incendiary weapons like fire-siphons etc...

    As an aside, mines were still dug under the enemy positions as late as WW1 - although by this point they had for a while now been made rather more potent by the option of piling explosives at the end and blowing those up under the foe's feet...
    Last edited by Watchman; 01-15-2009 at 19:58.
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    Quote Originally Posted by Watchman View Post
    A mine, also sometimes known as a sap. Dug under the walls of the besieged fortress and then deliberately collapsed to bring down sections of the circular defense (IIRC, didn't Dura apparently surrender after a whole section of the wall was lost to such and it became clear the next Persian assault would carry the fortress...?). Standard defender SOP to deal with such was to dig their own countermine to attack and destroy the approaching sap, which was wont to lead to some rather claustrophobic underground melees.

    Engineers could also get seriously diabolically creative if they had access to suitable tools of applied chemistry, incendiary weapons like fire-siphons etc...

    As an aside, mines were still dug under the enemy positions as late as WW1 - although by this point they had for a while now been made rather more potent by the option of piling explosives at the end and blowing those up under the foe's feet...
    indeed the finishing amerikan and english assault at ieper was set in by a massive series of explosions
    there are still 3 charges left in the ground wich didn't explode wich by now they lost the lokation of one charge and the others are too unstable to remove

    ive been in that area and you can still see some of the craters

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    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    I know some of the bigger mines the French for example dug were very little indeed short of the standards of full-blown commercial mining operations, with electric lighting, rails and whatnot in the tunnels.

    There's even a fairly famous incident from the American Civil War concerning the unsuccesful attempt to exploit the results of a mine...

    But I digress. Back to Antiquity now.
    "Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. --- Proof of the existence of the FSM, if needed, can be found in the recent uptick of global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Apparently His Pastaness is to be worshipped in full pirate regalia. The decline in worldwide pirate population over the past 200 years directly corresponds with the increase in global temperature. Here is a graph to illustrate the point."

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    Member Member Lucius Verenus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    Quote Originally Posted by theoldbelgian View Post
    indeed the finishing amerikan and english assault at ieper was set in by a massive series of explosions
    there are still 3 charges left in the ground wich didn't explode wich by now they lost the lokation of one charge and the others are too unstable to remove

    ive been in that area and you can still see some of the craters

    I think what you are referring to is the 'British' (actually British & Australian) assault on Messines Ridge, prior to the 'Passchendaele' Offensive of 1917

    19 Mines of 22 planned were exploded and the Ridge and rear slope to Wytschaete village taken in a single day, probably the most successful assault on the Western Front up to that time.

    One of the mines was destroyed by German counter mining operations which were also extensive and involved many heavy underground battles - two mines were not exploded as they lay outside the final operations area and I expect those are the ones that are still there.

    Rather like the Romans, there are many soldiers from both sides that went into the tunnels and never came out again.

    As for scale of operations , the British even tried a steam driven drilling monster that got stuck and is also 'down there' somewhere

    http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/messines.htm (if interested)

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    Member Member Lucius Verenus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    removed double-post
    Last edited by Lucius Verenus; 01-22-2009 at 20:10. Reason: Oops double post removed

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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    the 'British' (actually British, Australian and New Zealander) assault on Messines Ridge

    Fixed.

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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    thanks lucius for clearing that up

    it was a while ago since I have been there and my memory was clouded

  11. #11

    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    One of those mines under Ploegsteert Wood blew up in the 1950s and killed a few cows. I think there's only one left.
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    Marzbān-ī Jundīshāpūr Member The Persian Cataphract's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    Revisiting the issue of "chemical warfare" by the Sassanian miners (Link to original article):

    A recent piece of news regarding the history of Iran surprised those of us involved in the study of history. Usually, when Iran/Persia gets mentioned, it is either in the form of nuclear "threat" currently providing fodder for news networks or in the shape of ghouls and monsters who get massacred in hundreds by a few brave and freedom loving Greeks, making puddles of blood in service of human rights and freedom. So, it was interesting to see that the only time the Persian history makes it to the main news is still in connection with violence, particularly "gruesome" tactics against the beloved, civilised, freedom loving Romans who just killed their enemies by boring them to death, apparently.



    To give it some background, the Sasanian Empire of Iran/Persia was founded by Ardashir I in 224 CE and it soon came to include not only Iran but also Iraq and parts of the Caucasus and Central Asia. It quickly expanded eastwards to the northern parts of India as well, replacing the Kushan Empire. In the west, it was met with the colonial power of Rome whose expansionist policies had taken it far from the Italian peninsula and into the Near East, the neighbourhood of the Sasanians and the domain of their political ancestors, the Achaemenids. From early on, the Sasanians and the Romans were involved in border skirmishes which never were decisively concluded in either side's favour. However, in the middle of the third century, Shapur I, the son of the founder of the dynasty, succeeded in defeating and killing one Roman emperor (Gordianus III), defeating and imprisoning another one (Valerian, who died in Iran) and forcing yet another one to sign a humiliating treaty (Philip the Arab). So, at the time that the supposed "chemical warfare" in question was taking place, the Sasanians had the definite upper hand in the war with the Romans. This is again interesting, since comments such as "the Sasanian Persians were as knowledgeable in siege warfare as the Romans" (quite common when there is talk of ancient history) somehow imply that the Romans were the Americans of the ancient world, the most civilised, knowledgeable, and technologically advanced of all ancient peoples to whose exalted positions all others needed to aspire, despite constant reminders from those such as the Chinese that this could not be farther from the truth.



    Regardless of whether there is any political meaning behind the news of the Persian use of chemical warfare and the current controversy regarding "weapons of mass destruction", it is still interesting to see whether this new piece of research has any scientific value. For this, we turned to a colleague, Mr. Reza Yeganehshakib, who is a PhD student at the department of history, University of California, Irvine. Mr. Yeganehshakib comes to UCI with previous degrees in Chemical Engineering (BS) and Environmental Studies (MS). He has a strong understanding of the scientific processes that might have resulted in what has been reported in the news bit above. The following are his comments.



    The Roman soldiers that were found could have been killed because of the lack of oxygen due to the blockage of the mouth of the tunnel, or possibly because of the collapse of the earth and the blockage of the mouth of the tunnel behind them. The dimensions of the tunnel, as described, must be precisely analyzed and compared to the material and texture of the soil and its mechanical properties to see if the Roman reinforcement and structures could resist the weight of the mass of the soil above it or not.



    Roman and Persian miners would have needed some means of providing light in order to be able to see what they were doing. The sulphur crystal and bitumen, mentioned in the article, are among the chemicals that were commonly used in order to produce torch light at the time. The presence of these chemicals and burning them could surely produce hazardous gasses. Gasses like Carbon Monoxide (produced as a result of the lack of enough oxygen required for the complete combustion in the tunnel), sulphur oxides, and unburned Hydrocarbons are among the most lethal gasses produced by burning these chemicals to produce enough light. The accumulation of these gasses in either side of the tunnel was surely quite deadly. The accumulation of the harmful gasses could have been caused either by the physical blockage of the entrance or mouth of the tunnel or due to the air pressure difference between the inside of the tunnel and the outside air pressure particularly at the mouth of it. If the outside air pressure was higher than that of the inside, then the gases inside could not be released to the outside and would accumulate there. The elevation difference of the tunnel and its entrance is a crucial factor, as the air density and pressure in the higher altitudes is lower than that of lower altitude.



    If the Persian tunnel, as shown at the first image, was built at a lower elevation and had an open entrance to enter the air, then a hole or any other open area could have unexpectedly connected the Roman and Persian tunnels together. the air and the harmful gases, either produced by those chemicals to produce light or intentionally to produce harmful gasses, would have suddenly rose up and gotten into the Roman tunnel due to the air pressure difference. Therefore almost all of the gasses that had lower densities than air would have rose up to the Roman tunnel. At the time if the Roman tunnel mouth was closed for any reason, even if the process of the gas transfer from Persian side to the Roman side was slowed, the gasses already existing in the Roman tunnel would have remained for awhile.



    All the burning processes need enough oxygen, fuel, and temperature. The latter can be produced by the initial ignition that Sulphur Crystals might have cause; however, the gases produced as the result of combustion are proportionate to the amount of fuel and air. By finding evidence of the existence of the quantity and quality of the fuel (a very difficult task), we can determine the amount of the gas released by creating a mass-energy balance for the chemical reaction of this combustion to see if enough hazardous gases were produced in order to kill 21 soldiers (20 Romans and one Persian). We also need to see if there as enough oxygen or air to realize the combustion is another issue.



    So, these scientific take on the news imply that although the intentional use of "chemical weapons" was possible, the case could also have been a simple case of accumulation of poisonous gasses as the result of the burning of the chemicals used for creating light in the tunnels. In the former case, one should celebrate that the Persians were indeed as "advanced" as the Romans in their knowledge of warfare tactics and technologies. If the latter, one would also wonder the wisdom of trampling the history of Iran/Persia in all other occasions only to give it credence when violence is involved
    You may find annotations by Dr. Farrokh to the article here. Farrokh does additionally have his own qualms with the news, which you can read here.

    I am inclined to agree with this. There has been a profound outcry in regards to these news, especially in regard to the sensationalist headline of "chemical warfare". Dr. James himself was quite reserved on the issue, and was careful to not apply recent terminology on the cause of death. Now, I answered to the issue at some detail over at the GameFAQs History board some time ago, and it feels like a lot of people misunderstand the distinction between proper anti-personnel chemical warfare which is usually conducted across open spaces, rather than by suffocation.

    Now, I am sceptical when it comes to modern political allusions superimposed upon archaeological discoveries, but it cannot be helped to suspect that the sensationalist headlines were a deliberate move by journalists with poor understanding of siege-craft. Indeed, if we may allow for some suspicion to breathe freely, there has been a recent surge of negatively loaded media in regards to ancient Iranian history, not limited to Cyrus II The Great, the Cyrus cylinder, modern allusions between Roman and Parthian empires (E.g. Coalition troops and Iraqi insurgents), and now "chemical warfare". Do I even need to point out how these coincide with the release of controversial films? Or the fact that there is indeed an anti-Iranian vibe in the air?

    Now quite frankly, this is getting a bit tiring. Now I'm not much for whining or bawling out like a martyr, but it does not take a genius to get the allusion of Iranians being... Excuse my French, a bunch of vaginas, in the historical sense of the matter: Effete weaklings who did not know how to fight like "real men". This is not only bizarre but quite foreign to the contemporary Graeco-Romans who wrote of completely different martial qualities of their eastern rival.

    God forbid anyone mentions Islam... We would aggravate "1.5 billion Muslims". I know! Let's target the ancient Iranians, which have next to nothing to do with the Islamic regime of Iran, and let's work the propaganda from there! Yeah, awesome idea, let's do that and at the same time help the Islamic regime in their attempts of eradicating the ancient Iranian heritage! Let's just use their past ancient history and leave out the basis for their ideology and the basis of their political pulpit. That will certainly work! Maybe then we'll find some historical evidence of Parthians burning flags and banners and chanting "Death to America!".

    Big feet go well with twelve gauge buckshots. Most people would think of Halabja when they mention "chemical warfare". In an age where journalism is about orgasming on the latest Christian Bale tantrum, and Prada handbags, this just warrants the facepalm of epic failure. Who wrote the article for the Telegraph? I know Tanya Syed wrote the article for BBC. I know Rossella Lorenzi wrote a similar article for ABC, and I know Steve Connor wrote a piece for "The Independent". Most of them took Dr. James' words out of context, and conveniently left out this comment:

    "But quite clearly the Sasanian Persians were just as good as the Romans. They were very sophisticated and very determined and they knew exactly what they were doing. They were clearly clever and ruthless but they were no more nasty than everybody else at the time. The Romans were phenomenally brutal when it came to warfare."

    Idiots are abundant, but journalists with flimsy understanding of military history take the prize. Did anyone stop to think why the Romans could never outmatch the ancient Iranians purely by military force? It is because they were just every bit as capable as the Graeco-Romans and knew how to fight. I will cite a 600-year old conflict where no victor emerged as proof.
    Last edited by The Persian Cataphract; 02-12-2009 at 14:05.


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  13. #13

    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    Quote Originally Posted by The Persian Cataphract View Post
    Revisiting the issue of "chemical warfare" by the Sassanian miners (Link to original article):



    You may find annotations by Dr. Farrokh to the article here. Farrokh does additionally have his own qualms with the news, which you can read here.

    I am inclined to agree with this. There has been a profound outcry in regards to these news, especially in regard to the sensationalist headline of "chemical warfare". Dr. James himself was quite reserved on the issue, and was careful to not apply recent terminology on the cause of death. Now, I answered to the issue at some detail over at the GameFAQs History board some time ago, and it feels like a lot of people misunderstand the distinction between proper anti-personnel chemical warfare which is usually conducted across open spaces, rather than by suffocation.

    Now, I am sceptical when it comes to modern political allusions superimposed upon archaeological discoveries, but it cannot be helped to suspect that the sensationalist headlines were a deliberate move by journalists with poor understanding of siege-craft. Indeed, if we may allow for some suspicion to breathe freely, there has been a recent surge of negatively loaded media in regards to ancient Iranian history, not limited to Cyrus II The Great, the Cyrus cylinder, modern allusions between Roman and Parthian empires (E.g. Coalition troops and Iraqi insurgents), and now "chemical warfare". Do I even need to point out how these coincide with the release of controversial films? Or the fact that there is indeed an anti-Iranian vibe in the air?

    Now quite frankly, this is getting a bit tiring. Now I'm not much for whining or bawling out like a martyr, but it does not take a genius to get the allusion of Iranians being... Excuse my French, a bunch of vaginas, in the historical sense of the matter: Effete weaklings who did not know how to fight like "real men". This is not only bizarre but quite foreign to the contemporary Graeco-Romans who wrote of completely different martial qualities of their eastern rival.

    God forbid anyone mentions Islam... We would aggravate "1.5 billion Muslims". I know! Let's target the ancient Iranians, which have next to nothing to do with the Islamic regime of Iran, and let's work the propaganda from there! Yeah, awesome idea, let's do that and at the same time help the Islamic regime in their attempts of eradicating the ancient Iranian heritage! Let's just use their past ancient history and leave out the basis for their ideology and the basis of their political pulpit. That will certainly work! Maybe then we'll find some historical evidence of Parthians burning flags and banners and chanting "Death to America!".

    Big feet go well with twelve gauge buckshots. Most people would think of Halabja when they mention "chemical warfare". In an age where journalism is about orgasming on the latest Christian Bale tantrum, and Prada handbags, this just warrants the facepalm of epic failure. Who wrote the article for the Telegraph? I know Tanya Syed wrote the article for BBC. I know Rossella Lorenzi wrote a similar article for ABC, and I know Steve Connor wrote a piece for "The Independent". Most of them took Dr. James' words out of context, and conveniently left out this comment:

    "But quite clearly the Sasanian Persians were just as good as the Romans. They were very sophisticated and very determined and they knew exactly what they were doing. They were clearly clever and ruthless but they were no more nasty than everybody else at the time. The Romans were phenomenally brutal when it came to warfare."

    Idiots are abundant, but journalists with flimsy understanding of military history take the prize. Did anyone stop to think why the Romans could never outmatch the ancient Iranians purely by military force? It is because they were just every bit as capable as the Graeco-Romans and knew how to fight. I will cite a 600-year old conflict where no victor emerged as proof.
    You just forget to mention that they lasted only 400 hundred years while the romans lasted for 2000 years. Other than that they were indeed technological advanced ( not as much as the greco-romans)

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    Marzbān-ī Jundīshāpūr Member The Persian Cataphract's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    I did not forget anything. If you can make such simpleton calculation on Roman longevity (And the transition between republic and empire), then the Partho-Sassanian episode lasted beyond 900 years and two additional centuries as the Caliphate had difficulties subduing Tabarīstān; an area which otherwise was comparable to the times when the Byzantines were severely crammed of space, during the mid-Thematic era and significantly during the dynasty of the Palaiologos.

    Maybe you should add the despotate of Epirus too. Then maybe I should add the independent post-Achaemenid Iranian kingdoms of the early Hellenistic age.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucio Domicio Aureliano
    (not as much as the greco-romans)
    It will be interesting to see what sorts of evidence you have to support this claim.
    Last edited by The Persian Cataphract; 02-12-2009 at 18:19.


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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    Quote Originally Posted by The Persian Cataphract View Post
    I did not forget anything. If you can make such simpleton calculation on Roman longevity (And the transition between republic and empire), then the Partho-Sassanian episode lasted beyond 900 years and two additional centuries as the Caliphate had difficulties subduing Tabarīstān; an area which otherwise was comparable to the times when the Byzantines were severely crammed of space, during the mid-Thematic era and significantly during the dynasty of the Palaiologos.

    Maybe you should add the despotate of Epirus too. Then maybe I should add the independent post-Achaemenid Iranian kingdoms of the early Hellenistic age.



    It will be interesting to see what sorts of evidence you have to support this claim.
    I don“t disregard the advances and culture brought by the sassanids but, for my thinking, the romans and the greeks did more. Let“s say the Partho-Sassanian episode lasted for one-thousand year yet it“s much less than the romans. Not to mention that the Graeco-Roman society are the backbone of hte western world. Anyway, i“m also aware of the fact that the romans considered the sassanids their equal.

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    Guitar God Member Mediolanicus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucio Domicio Aureliano View Post
    I don“t disregard the advances and culture brought by the sassanids but, for my thinking, the romans and the greeks did more. Let“s say the Partho-Sassanian episode lasted for one-thousand year yet it“s much less than the romans. Not to mention that the Graeco-Roman society are the backbone of hte western world. Anyway, i“m also aware of the fact that the romans considered the sassanids their equal.
    Well, you hardly could've expected that the Pathians and Sassanids had a larger impact on western society than the Romans, can you?

    While the Roman (in a very broad sence: city state to the fall of the Eastern Empire) lasted longer that the Partho-Sassanid dynasties, you can hardly say they had a large impact on history during the whole of that time...
    Last edited by Mediolanicus; 02-12-2009 at 19:33. Reason: better choice of words.
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    Quote Originally Posted by Mediolanicus View Post
    Well, you hardly could've expected that the Pathians and Sassanids had a larger impact on western society than the Romans, can you?

    While the Roman (in a very broad sence: city state to the fall of the Eastern Empire) lasted longer that the Partho-Sassanid dynasties, you can argueably say they had a large impact on history during the whole of that time...
    You“re right, my bad.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    Persian Cataphract, could you tell me how much of the sassanid culture or society is still present in in this day middle eastern ? I“m not being ironic, i just would like to know if you have this info. As far as i know the arabs want to erase it but it still present till today.
    Thanks

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    Marzbān-ī Jundīshāpūr Member The Persian Cataphract's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    I highly dispute the outdated notion of the Graeco-Roman legacy being some purported "backbone" of "Western Civilization"; what are the qualifiers to such a criterion, and who may hold such a claim? I maintain that no one can hold this banner of legacy, and that it is to the contrary a construct of Nordicist and Pan-European demagoguery, the exact same kind which has for centuries tried to cheaply peddle "Greek freedom", "West prevailing over the East" and attempted to turn figures such as Alexander III The Great and Jeshua of Nazareth into Nordicist front-figures, fitting them into Aryanistic ideals, even though the former was a northerner Greek and the latter a Semite. At the expense of Greek self-identity and national integrity. This cheap superimposition of modern Western Europe, who usually have huge problems recognizing their own historical heritage, embark upon acquiring what they consider to be "superior cultures"; a mode of thinking which would have been very foreign to their own ancestors.

    Therefore I do not recognize the allusions to ancient Greece and Rome, as assumed by a number of countries. Taking inspiration from other cultures is a necessity, and paving a road to the future must be done with the help of the past... But I will never recognize some perverted illusion of America being a successor to the Roman empire. It is a fantasy, stupid beyond belief at best, and at worst a dangerous political platform.

    We cannot pick and choose aspects of a culture to a liking, if one must assume legitimacy. Now this is where the Graeco-Romano-Byzantine chain of various dynasties begins to fall short; when did the Romans cease to be the Italic-originated civilization, and turn into a fully-fledged Greek monarchy? As has been pointed out by the eminent professor Richard Nelson Frye in his lauded "The Golden Age of Persia", by the late Sassanian interlude, the Byzantine rivals had come to mirror Persianate culture to such a degree that the Byzantines could no longer be perceived out of an Occidentalist approach: They had themselves become an Oriental power, which was by then centered in Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt. If true, what do we then make out of the Heracleian dynasty? The Isaurians? Komnenians? The Palailogoi and the clan of Doukas?

    Indeed, we should look further back and bring the same reasoning to dynasties of the Roman Empire, which did not have Italic roots, including the Severan dynasty and a fair number of emperors of Syriac descent, notwithstanding the Palmyrans. Clearly, the issue of a purported "2000 years of continuity" is not only simplified, but flawed and dismisses that the reasoning could equally be applied to Persianate powers, dismissing the brief interludes of foreign conquerors. If so, then we are indeed poised before an ancient Iranian legacy which stretches back to the age of the Medes.

    I will resume this later today.
    Last edited by The Persian Cataphract; 02-17-2009 at 17:02.


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    Guitar God Member Mediolanicus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    Quote Originally Posted by The Persian Cataphract View Post
    I highly dispute the outdated notion of the Graeco-Roman legacy being some purported "backbone" of "Western Civilization"; what are the qualifiers to such a criterion, and who may hold such a claim?
    I totally agree, but you can't dispute that the Romans did leave some heavy impressions on Western Society.

    Every single law system in Western Europe (From England to Portugal to Germany) is based on Roman/early Byzantine law for example. Of course heavily influenced by "common" law in the Northern countries.
    (And by common law I don't mean the English common law, but the non-written law that was used in every village court in Western Europe.)

    This is of course far from a backbone of Western civilazation, but law is nontheless a very important part of a society.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Persian Cataphract View Post
    This cheap superimposition of modern Western Europe, who usually have huge problems recognizing their own historical heritage, embark upon acquiring what they consider to be "superior cultures"; a mode of thinking which would have been very foreign to their own ancestors.
    Any examples for this one?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Persian Cataphract View Post
    I will resume this later today.
    Great, it's a very interesting read.
    Last edited by Mediolanicus; 02-17-2009 at 21:21.
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    iudex thervingiorum Member athanaric's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    Interesting read, TPC, but how do you support the notion that "Graeco-Roman civilization" is not the backbone of today's "Western civilization"? After all, European nations and their American offspring are heavily influenced not only by the Roman law mentioned above, but also by Hellenic philosophers, by Hellenic and Roman art, architecture and technology etc., not to forget the language. Of course, there are other influences en masse as well as the respective native cultures, but Roman and Hellenic culture is certainly a very important part of all modern European cultures, different though they may be.




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    Marzbān-ī Jundīshāpūr Member The Persian Cataphract's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    Mediolanicus,

    No one disputes the macro-historical influence, importance, and not least the legacy left behind the Graeco-Roman model of civilization. I agree with you that in regards to the judicial apparatus, and not least, in the corpus of Western philosophy, where we hear of eminent personalities such as Bertrand Russell, Karl Popper, and any other comparable individual who readily acquired the wisdom passed down to us from the especially Greek philosophers (Out of which I believe Diogenes of Sinope, otherwise so underrated, might have had the most profound effect in our modern society). What must however be disputed is this illusion of some "successorship". Equally, western philosophy was greatly complemented by the teachings of Persianate philosophers and polymaths such as Alhacen, Alpharabius, Avicenna, and Rhazes, and perhaps one of the greatest thinkers of them all, the Arab polymath Averroės. Even here therefore, we must stray away from ascribing some commonly available laws as being of particularly "Greek" or "Roman" character.

    Did someone here actually know that the early American presidents read Xenophon's "Cyropaedia", mostly in complement to Machiavelli's "The Prince"? This was unraveled in Cyrus Kar's documentary "In Search Of Cyrus The Great", and apparently the work was fondly read especially by Thomas Jefferson. Certainly, the content of the Cyropaedia is subject to intensive debate, and may have been the idealization of the beneficent sovereign, but nonetheless, this is an important tidbit.

    The essence of the argument however is that Eurocentric proponents are so wanton to claim that the entire basis for "Western civilization" (Which I believe is yet another fallacious construct) lies in the cradle of the Graeco-Roman civilization. Then where did this legacy "disappear" during the lengthy Middle and Medieval ages? Something is obviously not in order, and it sounds like some people want to eat the cookie and still keep it. Nordicist historians attempted to write off the Byzantines as the continuous bearer of the Romanesque culture (The very term "Byzantine" itself is a Nordicist construct), and conversely ascribed this to the Germanic dynasties who ruled an entity otherwise known as the "Holy Roman Empire".

    Countries such as Sweden actively downplay their ancient legacy, relegating the Vendel and the Viking eras as some barbarous interlude, where mentioned people only raided and ravaged entire dwellings just for the shits and the giggles; instead, Swedish historiography has done its utmost to rather reaffirm the Franco-Flemish royal dynasty of the Bernadotte and associated "noble houses", even though that particular dynasty is from a historiographic point of view fairly recent. Even though the Vikings apparently reached the shores of northern Persia and discovered the Americas centuries before Columbus' clumsy expedition into India, they are still declared a backwater culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by athanaric
    Interesting read, TPC, but how do you support the notion that "Graeco-Roman civilization" is not the backbone of today's "Western civilization"?
    This is a ludicrous argument and makes no sense if rationalized in logical notation; the argument is invalid because I levy upon the positive claimant the burden of proof, as an opposing party. Is it fair then to levy such burden of proof from the source of counter-inquiry/dispute/dissensus? However, let us for a brief moment assume that it is valid, in some hypothetical twist: How do you prove a negative?

    Indeed, let us apply your reasoning in some random scenario of a theological (simplified) debate between a religious proponent and an atheist; the religious proponent states that there is a God. The atheist responds by counter-inquiry, the demand of proof to support the positive statement. The religious proponent responds in his own terms for the atheist to prove that there is no super-natural being. This is clearly fallacious reasoning. And not only is it faulty reasoning, but by itself is a can of worms, and is often deemed the root to many other syllogistic fallacies, including that of affirmative conclusion from a negative premise. The demand for negative proof, otherwise known as "reversed burden of evidence" is a fallacy.

    I mean, does this sound rational to you?

    "A supernatural force must exist, because there is no proof that it does not exist."

    My main arguments, I think at least, have been quite clear. We cannot trivialize history, and the utterly complex mechanisms of cause-and-effect, consequentiality, and whatnot because some great power wants to be looked upon in some manner of mode or inspiration. Hitler too laid a claim upon the Roman legacy, and not least, laid a claim to the Aryan identity (Which came to be adapted into a Pan-Germanic ideology), in which the previous claimants were completely ignored, save for the Iranian nation, because Hitler saw an opportunity of bargaining for petroleum. Or as in the case of the Roma people, slaughtered, in one of history's great ironies. Now what? I just flipped the coin.

    History has a tremendous potential to influence countries into great deeds. Influence. Steer. Direct. But we cannot walk around and say "America is Rome" because both happen to coincidentally have strong armies; then we might as well as say "America is Persia", simply because allusions to the Persian expedition against Athens as a retaliation to the mass-arson of Sardis finds parallels in 9/11... This pick-and-choose mentality is absurd. And I'm not sure if the Greeks of today enjoy having their heritage being flaunted like some cheap McDonald's burger. It's all about geo-political allusions, just as much as it applies here for Persians being the "inventors of chemical warfare". I'd personally rather have "inventors of equestrian chivalry and bad-ass knights", but that's apparently too much to ask for. As easily as some would compare America to Rome, it has been as easy for others to ascribe Iraqi insurgents or Saddam to the ancient Persians... Which is quite a laughable irony for anyone even mildly informed about the history of the Near East and Iranistics.
    Last edited by The Persian Cataphract; 02-18-2009 at 23:39.


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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    Hey, but what about these? Now I'm confused.
    http://departments.bloomu.edu/philos...eanegative.pdf
    http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...er/theory.html

    And you would probably hate Victor David Hanson.

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    iudex thervingiorum Member athanaric's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    Quote Originally Posted by The Persian Cataphract View Post
    This is a ludicrous argument and makes no sense if rationalized in logical notation; the argument is invalid because I levy upon the positive claimant the burden of proof, as an opposing party. Is it fair then to levy such burden of proof from the source of counter-inquiry/dispute/dissensus? However, let us for a brief moment assume that it is valid, in some hypothetical twist: How do you prove a negative?

    Indeed, let us apply your reasoning in some random scenario of a theological (simplified) debate between a religious proponent and an atheist; the religious proponent states that there is a God. The atheist responds by counter-inquiry, the demand of proof to support the positive statement. The religious proponent responds in his own terms for the atheist to prove that there is no super-natural being. This is clearly fallacious reasoning. And not only is it faulty reasoning, but by itself is a can of worms, and is often deemed the root to many other syllogistic fallacies, including that of affirmative conclusion from a negative premise. The demand for negative proof, otherwise known as "reversed burden of evidence" is a fallacy.

    I mean, does this sound rational to you?

    "A supernatural force must exist, because there is no proof that it does not exist."

    I think you misunderstood what I said, perhaps due to the fact that I am not very good at expressing things.

    My main arguments, I think at least, have been quite clear. We cannot trivialize history, and the utterly complex mechanisms of cause-and-effect, consequentiality, and whatnot because some great power wants to be looked upon in some manner of mode or inspiration.
    From what I understand, you contested the common belief (I don't like the word "belief") that the Graeco-Roman culture is the basis of what we have today as "our" "Western Civilization" (Judiciary system, democracy, engineering, arts, philosophy etc. in random order). Certainly these civilizations/cultures are not identical, but they are related.
    I already skimmed some of the "evidence". I am not denying the importance of the native culture of the different European people. Nor am I justifying any claims certain ideologues (e.g. "Western" supremacists) make. In fact, I am totally not interested in their ideologies. By the way, I have met just as many "Asian", "Islamic", or "Iranian" supremacists. Bias, nationalism, racism and all that stuff isn't endemic to Europe. In this context, I think we need not discuss National Socialist ideology here because this ideology is obviously totally idiotic and ridiculously arbitrary.


    History has a tremendous potential to influence countries into great deeds. Influence. Steer. Direct. But we cannot walk around and say "America is Rome" because both happen to coincidentally have strong armies; then we might as well as say "America is Persia", simply because allusions to the Persian expedition against Athens as a retaliation to the mass-arson of Sardis finds parallels in 9/11... This pick-and-choose mentality is absurd. And I'm not sure if the Greeks of today enjoy having their heritage being flaunted like some cheap McDonald's burger. It's all about geo-political allusions, just as much as it applies here for Persians being the "inventors of chemical warfare". I'd personally rather have "inventors of equestrian chivalry and bad-ass knights", but that's apparently too much to ask for. As easily as some would compare America to Rome, it has been as easy for others to ascribe Iraqi insurgents or Saddam to the ancient Persians... Which is quite a laughable irony for anyone even mildly informed about the history of the Near East and Iranistics.
    I never said "America is Rome" or stuff like this. Would be absurd. But there are certain parallels one can hardly deny, as well as Roman cultural influences.
    Finally, I don't care what Persians are "known for". I know they had a great civilization. Let uninformed people think what they want. If they want to believe that stupid Hollywood movies are realistic or that Ancient Persians were uncivilized "Taleban" types who indulged in gassing their enemies, it is their own fault.




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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    History has no utterly complex mechanics of cause-and-effect whatsover. History is at best seen as unpredictable, foggy and not bound by any traditional laws applied to other sciences such as Mathematics. This is what makes it so beautiful: who, presuming that we send back a healthy percentage of pundits, speculators & the like to the past, would predict the rise of Mongol Civilization from the ashes or the decline of Rome? Or the Rise of the Sassanids? To me history is best left untried, unmeasured, and only studied as the facts presented themselves. Whatever conclusion or utility can we reach is a matter of debate, but I consider a fact that anyone who tries to metrify history into a strict delineation of certain restrict causes resulting in certain restrict events has no idea of what he talks. Else we could just accurately predict the future as much as we could "interpret" history, but no one knows if the US is going to be a thermonuclear wasteland in the next day.

    EDIT - Sorry if I resurrected this old topic but this is an interesting debate nevertheless.
    Last edited by A Terribly Harmful Name; 03-12-2009 at 02:04.

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    Ni dieu ni maītre! Senior Member a completely inoffensive name's Avatar
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    Default Re: Archeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare

    Very interesting article, an even more interesting conversation here.
    In all these papers we see a love of honest work, an aversion to shams, a caution in the enunciation of conclusions, a distrust of rash generalizations and speculations based on uncertain premises. He was never anxious to add one more guess on doubtful matters in the hope of hitting the truth, or what might pass as such for a time, but was always ready to take infinite pains in the most careful testing of every theory. With these qualities was united a modesty which forbade the pushing of his own claims and desired no reputation except the unsought tribute of competent judges.

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