In this age of terror, there might be nothing more terrifying than the thought of an attack carried out with chemical weapons. We’ve all heard the horrific stories of soldiers being gassed in WWI, and the idea that it could happen in the here and now is blood-chilling.
Perhaps scariest of all is that this isn’t just a possibility. There are chemical attacks happening in the present day, just as there have been across history. And while you’d probably assume you’d hear about a devastating gas attack, we’re willing to bet you’re unfamiliar with more than one of these.
10. The First Chemical Attack in History
At school, we’re taught that April 22 1915 is the day German forces launched the first gas attack in history. It’s certainly the first time gas was used in modern history, but the story of chemical weapons begins much, much earlier. In 2009, scientists uncovered evidence that the very first attack could have happened as long as 2,000 years ago.
The location was the small Roman garrison Dura-Europos in modern-day Syria. In AD 256, this outpost of the Empire came under siege from the powerful Sassanian Persian empire. During the carnage, the Romans began to dig tunnels under their own walls from which they could leap up and slaughter their enemies. The Persians discovered a group of 20 legionnaires in the process of digging one. Rather than charge in and attack them, they combined sulphur crystals and bitumen to make a toxic gas and pumped it into the tunnel.
The 20 Romans died an incredibly gruesome death, choking on the air around them. It is currently the first-known gas attack in human history. It certainly wouldn’t be the last.