Early chemical warfare comes to light

Early chemical warfare comes to light

Remains of a Roman garrison in Syria document a third-century battle and offer a glimpse of a grisly tunnel fight

By Bruce Bower, 09:02 AM January 11, 2009

PHILADELPHIA — Roman soldiers defending a Middle Eastern garrison from attack nearly 2,000 years ago met the horrors of war in a most unusual place. Inside a cramped tunnel beneath the site’s massive front wall, enemy fighters stacked up nearly two dozen dead or dying Romans and set them on fire, using substances that gave off toxic fumes and drove away Roman warriors just outside the tunnel.

The attackers, members of Persia’s Sasanian culture that held sway over much of the region in and a...

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