Greek Fire: A Byzantine Empire Wondrous Weapon

Greek fire - The ancient weapon still a mystery today

Greek fire, a terrifying incendiary weapon wielded by the Byzantine Empire from around 672 AD, changed the course of naval warfare. This potent liquid, propelled by flame-throwing devices, ignited enemy ships with fearsome ferocity. Some historians believe it even burned while floating on water, making it a nightmare for opposing fleets.

Greek Fire Is Every Sailor's Deadly Nightmare (Video)

Likely based on naphtha and quicklime, the exact composition of Greek fire remains a mystery, shrouded in speculation and debate. Proposed ingredients include pine resin, sulphur, nitre, and even calcium phosphide. Regardless of its precise chemistry, its effectiveness was undeniable.

The Byzantines used this technological marvel to devastating effect, particularly in naval battles. Greek fire secured numerous key victories, most notably repelling the first and second Arab sieges of Constantinople, safeguarding the empire's very existence.

Behind this legendary weapon stood Kallinikos, a brilliant Graeco-Syrian inventor born in modern-day Baalbak, Lebanon. Driven by the urgency of defending his empire against the Arab threat, Kallinikos unleashed the inferno that would forever revolutionize maritime warfare.

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.

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