I had a lot of fun researching biological and chemical warfare in the ancient world. I grew up with two older brothers who loved to burn thing and blow things up so it’s natural that I would take an interest in this topic.
The funnest part for me was reading about the myths and finding out how they correlate with real events and places. The most interesting story for me to read was the story of the Assyrian army under Sennacherib attacked Egypt and the Pharaoh prayed to the god Ptah who sent thousands of mice to chew up their weapons and bring plague to the Assyrian army. The most interesting thing about this story, reported by Herodotus, is that the exact same story happens in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is also under attack by Sennacherib’s army and the god of Israel also sends thousands of mice to defeat the Assyrian army. I found this fascinating as Josephus later backs up Herodotus’ account. Where was the true setting of this story? Is the bible accurate in saying it was Jerusalem or was Egypt where this miracle actually happened?
Another exciting thing I did for the project was when I was researching Greek Fire. All the sources compare Greek Fire to modern napalm. So I decided to make some napalm myself and see just how deadly it could be. My brothers used to make napalm all the time in the summers when they were out of school. I enlisted the help of my oldest brother, Daniel, to help me make napalm. The basic recipe for making napalm is Styrofoam, gasoline, and a metal pot. He told me to pour gasoline into the metal pot. Next, we added bits and pieces of Styrofoam into the gasoline. We kept stirring like it was a batter of caramel and kept adding bits of the Styrofoam until we had a sticky, gray/white, syrupy mixture. Then, we burned it. We dug a small but deep hole and put some grass and twigs into it. Then we put the mixture on and lit it on fire. It was really cool. The fire was bright and the smoke was black. It burned bright for about 20 minutes until it started to die down. It was really fun. I wanted to bring some of my homemade napalm to class to show everyone but I was pretty sure the fire marshal would have frowned upon that.