Perhaps the single most effective secret weapon ever, as some describe it. The composition of Greek fire was a highly guarded state secret, one that was lost forever when the Ottoman Turks finally captured Constantinople in 1453. Modern historians speculate it contained some sort of petroleum, or possibly phosphorus.

It burned on water, could be shot in any direction and was packaged into grenades and cannonballs, helping the Byzantines fend off Arabs, Vikings, Crusaders, various Turks and all manner of Italians. It could also be hurled by catapults over city walls or dumped on attackers trying to climb them.

But best of all were the specialized bowsprits built into Byzantine naval vessels, which made it appear as if the deadly flames were shooting out of the mouths of terrifying metal dragons, lions or other fierce animals. It wasn’t “so much the lethality as the fear of the flames,” explains Wright. “It was very effective at sea — you could throw it on the enemy’s ships and burn them down.” – FoxNews; edited by Ellopos Blog