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scythian arrowheads and chem weapons... (Read 10942 times)
johnny108
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scythian arrowheads and chem weapons...
Jul 14th, 2011 at 2:17am
 
Has anyone done much reading on the Scythian tribes and their arrows?
They were barbed, but they were also poisoned!
A curious biological toxin/infectious agent.  They were somehow able to clarify blood in order to obtain the plasma (the white blood cells that fight infection).  They would mix this with human excrement, and put it in a skin bag and bury it in  warm area.  They would then kill an adder, submerge it in another skin bag filled with more plasma, and bury it somewhere warm.
After letting these two bags "age" for a while- they would then mix the contents together, and smear this on the arrowheads.
The wound would not be a pretty one- after getting the arrow out- their would be the immidiate problem of the snakes venom, followed by the infections from the human waste which had been incubated in white blood cells.  Almost as if the mix was designed to grow in human white blood cells- the more your body tried to heal it- the more food was given to the toxic bacteria!
The historian Herodotus wrote of their "twice envenomed arrows" (barbed and poisoned!), and the wounds they created would fester for years- usually killing the target.  They were said to believe themselves to be descendants of Hercules- perhaps believing their arrows were much like his.
I got this information from a truly interesting, and easy-reading book called "Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs:
Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World" by Adrienne Mayor
Not exactly the types of weapons we can use at re-enactments, but, an interesting read!!
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greencheapsk8
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Re: scythian arrowheads and chem weapons...
Reply #1 - Jul 14th, 2011 at 6:08am
 
Man thats brutal.
Toxins in the imediate combat wound (if not immediately deadly) would probably not make much problem in a battle, but the reputation, the fear, the distinct knowledge of the Scythian Curse (or whatever) would deter many in battle.

If I knew my enemies had a weapon that would kill you from a scratch, will a horrible slow death, im sure id think twice about battle!
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slingbadger
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Re: scythian arrowheads and chem weapons...
Reply #2 - Jul 14th, 2011 at 6:27am
 
Great Book.
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The greatest of all the accomplishments of 20th cent. science has been the discovery of human ignorance  The main difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has it's limits.-Einstein   I'm getting psychic as I get older. Or is that psychotic?
 
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Masiakasaurus
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Re: scythian arrowheads and chem weapons...
Reply #3 - Jul 14th, 2011 at 10:42am
 
Point of clarification, plasma is not the white blood cells. Plasma is the liquid mixture that red and white blood cells and platelets float in. It also has a few bacteria and viruses that always float around in it that your leukocytes (white blood cells) keep from growing into a full infection. I imagine they removed the red and white blood cells from the plasma leaving the platelets, which would let the poison mixtures curdle. Tongue Isn't that a disgusting image.
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Pikåru wrote on Nov 19th, 2013 at 6:59pm:
Massi - WTF? It's called a sling. You use it to throw rocks farther and faster than you could otherwise. That's all. 
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Sadrice
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Re: scythian arrowheads and chem weapons...
Reply #4 - Jul 15th, 2011 at 2:46am
 
It would also make a good culture medium for the fecal bacteria.
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kuggur slingdog
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Reply #5 - Jul 15th, 2011 at 7:48am
 
Agree, this poison doesn´t sound more advanced than "corpse poison", sticking your arrows in a rotting corpse before applying. It would be a "bio" rather than a "chem" weapon.
Talk about dirty fighting; not a very honorable praxis, it has no effect on the fighting capabilitiy of your not fatally hit target, but it kills him horribly days or weeks after the battle, regardless of which side won.
A cowardly pre-emptive revenge....
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Caldou
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Re: scythian arrowheads and chem weapons...
Reply #6 - Jul 15th, 2011 at 8:24am
 
Quote:
A cowardly pre-emptive revenge....


Or a pretty usefull weapon when you are known for using hit-and-run tactics. Scythians were famous for coming at your (greeks/romans) troops, shower them with arrows from horseback... and continue the shooting while fleeing if you send men against them.

So minimal exposure, maximum damage... and it continue to pile up after the encounter.

Sure, it may seem coward if you want "manly" close quarter fights Wink

But I think it may be quite adequated to their way of life.
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HurlinThom
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Re: scythian arrowheads and chem weapons...
Reply #7 - Jul 15th, 2011 at 8:59am
 
No Geneva Convention back then. Not much of a Geneva, either, but that's a different story.

Oh, the Greeks and Romans are still around, or their descendants. Where are the Scythians?
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When all is said and done more will have been said than done.
 
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Masiakasaurus
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Re: scythian arrowheads and chem weapons...
Reply #8 - Jul 15th, 2011 at 10:47am
 
HurlinThom wrote on Jul 15th, 2011 at 8:59am:
Oh, the Greeks and Romans are still around, or their descendants. Where are the Scythians?

Their descendants are the Iranians. Doesn't that explain a lot? Wink
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Pikåru wrote on Nov 19th, 2013 at 6:59pm:
Massi - WTF? It's called a sling. You use it to throw rocks farther and faster than you could otherwise. That's all. 
~Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily avialable, they will create their own problems.~
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kuggur slingdog
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Reply #9 - Jul 15th, 2011 at 12:22pm
 
My remark was not meant to be generalized to the present day.
Wouldn´t become a very comfortable discussion, especially for our U.S. based members (anti personnel mine anyone?)
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Re: scythian arrowheads and chem weapons...
Reply #10 - Jul 15th, 2011 at 2:18pm
 
It wouldn't get any more uncomfortable for the US-based members than anyone else (though I get what you're implying about the Ottawa Conventons.) Everyone does horrible things in a war. If they didn't, it would be called "war."
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Pikåru wrote on Nov 19th, 2013 at 6:59pm:
Massi - WTF? It's called a sling. You use it to throw rocks farther and faster than you could otherwise. That's all. 
~Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily avialable, they will create their own problems.~
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kuggur slingdog
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Re: scythian arrowheads and chem weapons...
Reply #11 - Jul 15th, 2011 at 5:24pm
 
I agree Masia, as in the case of the Scythians (to get back on topic Wink) this kind of poison is very low tech, despite the convoluted recipe mentioned  in the OP, it is just corpse poison. If you do this to your enemies it is very easy for them to respond likewise.
A certain feeling of decorum, honour might temper or even prevent certain nastier behavior (maybe I am just naively  trying to be a bit optimistic here...).
Even in the more enlightened democratic parts of the world there is a worrying trend of eroding certain values. For instance the use of torture for gathering intelligence seems to have become more "acceptable"..
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Masiakasaurus
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Re: scythian arrowheads and chem weapons...
Reply #12 - Jul 15th, 2011 at 5:43pm
 
I don't think poisoned arrows are as cowardly as you do. Being a coldly rational b@$%@^d, I see the poison as serving a practical purpose. The goal of war is the prevent the other side from fighting back, not necessarily to kill all of them. Poison arrows extend the recovery time of even glancing blows so that just a scratch can take weeks to recover from before the warrior can get back on the field (if he ever does.) During the American Revolution our troops used ball and shot for basically the same reason. Musket balls aren't terribly accurate, so even if you miss the person you're aiming at you can still hit the guy next to him with a pellet of bird shot. Not deadly by any means, but it ties up resources. Torture however, is utterly useless. The fear of torture will make a man tell you what you want, but torture itself will only make him tell you what he thinks you want to hear.
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Pikåru wrote on Nov 19th, 2013 at 6:59pm:
Massi - WTF? It's called a sling. You use it to throw rocks farther and faster than you could otherwise. That's all. 
~Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily avialable, they will create their own problems.~
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kuggur slingdog
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Reply #13 - Jul 15th, 2011 at 7:12pm
 
Ah, and there we disagree; I don´t think the end always justifies  the means...
Just curious wouldn´t  you define "waterboarding" as torture...?
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Masiakasaurus
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Re: scythian arrowheads and chem weapons...
Reply #14 - Jul 15th, 2011 at 7:47pm
 
Quote:
Ah, and there we disagree; I don´t think the end always justifies  the means...

The ends don't justify the means; I just draw my line in the sand in a different place than you. Poison makes the arrows a more economically effective weapon because (as the book Wink says) Everyone Poops. Using blood as a source of bacteria and feces to cultivate it literally costs nothing, but makes it easier to become infected from a glancing blow. At the time medical knowledge was mostly religious/superstitious so there was still a good chance of getting an infection from an arrow that wasn't poisoned. Comparatively, the poison isn't all that worse than leaving the arrows untreated. Treating blankets with the same poison and giving them to civilians who weren't a part of the conflict is crossing the line, however.
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Pikåru wrote on Nov 19th, 2013 at 6:59pm:
Massi - WTF? It's called a sling. You use it to throw rocks farther and faster than you could otherwise. That's all. 
~Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily avialable, they will create their own problems.~
WWW elsabio04  
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