fire

Fire and Sword: Ferocious and Deadly Thermal Weapons set the Ancient World Ablaze

One only had to witness cities devoured by flames, see fleets of ships sinking, their sails ablaze, or behold screaming victims doused in boiling pitch to know the deadly efficacy of ancient thermal weapons.

Warfare was brutal, but effective, in the ancient world, between conventional arms of sword, bow and shield, to the invisible but deadly poisons and biological weapons. But perhaps none were as instantly terrifying and widely destructive as thermal weaponry.

Early thermal weapons were used inventively in warfare during the classical and medieval periods (eighth century...Read more

Suttee: Deadly Ancient Lessons on How to be a ‘Good Wife’ and a ‘Redeemed Widow’

A poor, 60-year-old barber in rural India, who had been ill for some time, died in his simple mud hut in 2002. The next morning, his widow announced her intention to commit suttee (or sati) —the ancient practice in which a widow burns herself to death on her husband's funeral pyre.

The villagers gathered to watch as the widow calmly walked to her husband's funeral pyre and sat down on it. The crowd lit incense sticks and made offerings of coconuts and betel leaves as she cradled her husband's head in her lap. She sat on the pyre for two hours before her eldest son set light to it....Read more