During the Middle Ages, everyone who knew the Byzantines considered their Greek fire to be the most destructive weapon known to mankind. Wielded by the Byzantines in Constantinople, soldiers used a hose to burn naval ships, which would spread rapidly across water. On land, the Byzantines used Greek fire as a primitive portable flamethrower and was even thrown like grenades. What made Greek fire so unique was its ability to burn and float in water. Because of its power, the Byzantines went to great lengths to keep the recipe a secret. As a result, only a handful of people knew the exact ingredients and its contents were never written down. By the time the Byzantine empire fell in the 15th century, the recipe to creating Greek fire had been lost and forgotten. Ever since then, nobody has ever been able to truly recreate the weapon. If you’re interested to learn more about the history of Greek fire, I wrote an article last year that goes more in depth on it’s creation and its effects on the invading Muslim army.
So how is it possible that mankind was able to create the internet, build atomic weapons and send a satellite outside our solar system, but not be able to make the same fire that the Byzantines created over a thousand years ago? Not many people are aware of Greek fire to begin with, and we have long since surpassed the necessity of swords and crossbows, so why do we need Greek fire if we have far more effective combat weaponry like guns, rockets, drones and nuclear warheads? Should we even try to bring back Greek fire? What would we gain?
Is it even possible to replicate Greek fire? Well, the closest we’ve come is in the form of napalm, but since the exact contents of Greek fire is currently unknown, we can’t exactly compare the two. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to fully recreate Greek fire (and who’s to say it hasn’t already been secretly rediscovered?), but if we are successful, what happens next? Will we start using it again as a weapon of war, or will we manage to keep it preserved? I would say it depends on which country or organization gets a hold of it. In my opinion, we should limit the usage of Greek fire to performances; perhaps as a part of a tourist attraction? I would imagine this could work great in a Byzantine museum in Istanbul (modern day Constantinople), since it was here that Greek fire was created and used. Greek fire was only used by the Byzantine army to defend against Muslim invaders, so it may be difficult to showcase the Byzantine’s weapon on a city that is now mostly Muslim, as it could show a bias view against the Muslims in favor of the Christian Byzantines. I say this hesitantly since I do not know about the public opinions in Istanbul, Turkey. Would Turkish officials be okay with this? How tolerant are they towards the Byzantine empire? But I can’t get ahead of myself, as who knows how long it’ll take to bring back the same Greek fire that the Byzantines had once possessed? We’ll just have to wait and see.