7 Insanely Advanced Weapons History Somehow Forgot About

#3. Fire-Resistant Clothing

Around the 12th and 13th centuries, battles in the Middle East often involved the use of chemical explosives and flammable liquids. Early warriors were especially vulnerable to these fire weapons, as they were either scantily clad or their clothing was made of flammable fabrics, and humans are not as effective at fighting when they are engulfed in flames.

Which is why napalm is such an unpopular party favor.

To combat this glaring strategic oversight, Muslim fighters developed fire-retardant clothing for battle. The fireproof suits consisted of a silk tunic, a cotton robe and a top-layer tunic that protected against fires and chemical gunpowder explosions, similar to the layers used in modern NBC suits today.

How effective was this protection? Muslim soldiers would strap small gunpowder charges to their bodies and light themselves on fire as they charged their enemies. As the flames burned the gunpowder, charges would explode, effectively making the soldiers look like taint-blasting fire beasts while still being protected by their ancient fireproof armor.

Forgotten Until ...

It wasn't for another 600 years, in the 19th century, that modern firefighters rediscovered the idea of fire-retardant clothing. Today, Formula One drivers wear silk undergarments underneath their Nomex suits as an extra layer of protection. Or at least that's what they claim.

#2. Obsidian Knives

For thousands of years, the native peoples of North and South America used stone implements for all their cutting needs. This involved making knives from obsidian that are among the sharpest blades known to exist.

Next to lightsabers.

The Aztecs used these super-sharp blades on the edges of their maquahuitl swords, which were essentially big wooden paddles with obsidian razors stuck in them for maximum chopping. Supposedly these swords could "chop the head off a horse with one blow."

"You! Go find me a horse!"

When European traders started making contact with the natives, the convenience of dull metal tools and blades took precedence, and the obsidian knives fell out use, as did the knowledge of how to make them, because back then Europeans dealt in ignorance like a currency.

"Everything you do is stupid."

Forgotten Until ...

It wasn't until 500 years later, in the middle of the 20th century, that an anthropologist named Don Crabtree rediscovered the knife-making technology that was almost lost to time, presumably using it to strike fear into the hearts of all the naysayers in the university faculty lounge.

"We'll see who's laughing when I hide one of these in the muffins."

#1. Greek Fire

In the year 678, the Arabs had the harbor city of Constantinople under siege for the fifth year in a row.

"We really should've seen this coming by now."

To combat this annual threat, the Byzantine navy introduced giant fucking flamethrowers known today as "Greek fire" and incinerated the Arab fleet as it prepared to attack the city. The Arabs didn't try again until 717, when they received the same treatment.

"We really should've seen this coming by now."

The Byzantine secret weapon was so secret that they compartmentalized each part of the Greek fire weapons system, with only the royal family and the descendants of the guy who invented it knowing the whole picture. For 500 years, the secret was held safely in the capital and passed on from generation to generation.

Sort of like the Colonel's recipe.

Forgotten Until ...

We still don't know how it worked. Unfortunately, the Byzantine empire was prone to coups -- 29 of the 88 total emperors had the shit murdered out of them in violent uprisings. At some point during one of these uprisings, the secret of the Greek fire was lost, because the new emperors tended to kill the entire royal family and the families of any close advisers. The last recorded use was in the naval battle against the Pisans in 1099.

Also known as "The Farewell Tour of the Flaming Death Ship."

For more of Eric Yosomono's writing, visit Gaijinass.

For more awesome old-school ideas, check out 11 Modern Technologies That Are Way Older Than You Think and 6 Depraved Sexual Fetishes That Are Older Than You Think.

And stop by Linkstorm to see Brockway's attempts to recreate Greek fire (and the Colonel's recipe).

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