Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Greek fire...still a mystery!!!

Greek fire was a burning fluid weapon employed by the Byzantine Greeks, Arabs, Chinese, and Mongols. The Byzantines undeniably employed it in naval battles to great result as it could continue burning even on water. It was greatly pivotal for many Byzantine military conquests, and fractionally the reason for the Byzantine Empire surviving as long as it did. The formula was a secret and remains a mystery to this day. As one contemporary victim of Greek fire advised his comrades, "Every time they hurl the fire at us, we go down on our elbows and knees, and beseech Our Lord to save us from this danger."

In its earliest practices it was used onto enemy forces by launching a burning cloth covered ball, possibly holding a flask, using a form of light catapult, most likely a sea borne variant of the Roman light catapult or onager. These were capable of hurling light loads (around 6 kilograms) to 9 kilograms a distance of 350 meters to 450 meters. Later technological gains in machining technology enabled the devising of a pump mechanism emitting a stream of burning fluid (flame thrower) at close ranges, destroying wooden ships in naval warfare and also very effective on land as a counter-force confrontation weapon used on besieging forces. There are many accounts of the Byzantine Empire driving off attacks on the walls using this injuriously frightful secret formula.

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