TROPIS VI: 6th International Symposium on Ship Construction in Antiquity (2001)

Image from an illuminated manuscript, the Skylitzes manuscript in Madrid, showing Greek fire in use against the fleet of the rebel Thomas the Slav

Introduction: The development of offensive weapons and defenses against them – the perennial cat-and-mouse game – has been going on for centuries, a conspicuous recent instance being the use of Scud missiles and antimissile Patriot missiles in the Gulf War.

Incendiary missiles were in use in antiquity and developed rapidly in the Hellenistic period, and various forms of fire extinguishers were invented to deal with them. The main extinguisher in ancient times was vinegar. Since vinegar was little better than water, as Pattington has rightly pointed out, we may assume that “the vinegar included salty sources, salt left on the surface of burning wood helping to extinguish it.” Other extinguishers in common use were sand, raw hides, urine (which contains ammonia and phosphates) and alum.

After the introduction by the Byzantines of Greek fire or “liquid fire” which was perfected by Kallinikos, a more systematic defense against this very dangerous weapon was developed. Sadly, Chapter 70 of the tenth-century Συλλσγπ Τακτικων, dealing with the defenses against Greek fire and methods of extinguishing it, is missing: only the title has been preserved.

A marginal note informs us that vinegar was used for protection against Greek fire and the best way to protect a wall was to pour vinegar over it. It is equally unfortunate that some important Arabic sources concerning Greek fire, which would surely have contained information about the methods of extinguishing it, are also lost. Fortunately there are a few scattered references to fireproof equipment and fire-extinguishers in the Byzantine sources and far more in the Arabic sources.

In this paper I shall give a short account of the methods used for fireproofing war machines and ships and of the fireproof garments worn by the personnel who used Greek fire, as described by Ibn al-Manqali (Mangli).

Click here to read this article from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology

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Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries had its humble beginnings as an idea of a few artisans and craftsmen who enjoy performing with live steel fighting. As well as a patchwork quilt tent canvas. Most had prior military experience hence the name.


Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries.


Vendertainers that brought many things to a show and are know for helping out where ever they can.

As well as being a place where the older hand made items could be found made by them and enjoyed by all.

We expanded over the years to become well known at what we do. Now we represent over 100 artisans and craftsman that are well known in their venues and some just starting out. Some of their works have been premiered in TV, stage and movies on a regular basis.

Specializing in Medieval, Goth , Stage Film, BDFSM and Practitioner.

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries a Dept of, Ask For IT was started by artists and former military veterans, and sword fighters, representing over 100 artisans, one who made his living traveling from fair to festival vending medieval wares. The majority of his customers are re-enactors, SCAdians and the like, looking to build their kit with period clothing, feast gear, adornments, etc.

Likewise, it is typical for these history-lovers to peruse the tent (aka mobile store front) and, upon finding something that pleases the eye, ask "Is this period?"

A deceitful query!! This is not a yes or no question. One must have a damn good understanding of European history (at least) from the fall of Rome to the mid-1600's to properly answer. Taking into account, also, the culture in which the querent is dressed is vitally important. You see, though it may be well within medieval period, it would be strange to see a Viking wearing a Caftan...or is it?

After a festival's time of answering weighty questions such as these, I'd sleep like a log! Only a mad man could possibly remember the place and time for each piece of kitchen ware, weaponry, cloth, and chain within a span of 1,000 years!! Surely there must be an easier way, a place where he could post all this knowledge...

Traveling Within The World is meant to be such a place. A place for all of these artists to keep in touch and directly interact with their fellow geeks and re-enactment hobbyists, their clientele.

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