Discover more about this Byzantine weapon that burns on water...
Greek fire was a weapon used by the Byzantine Empire in naval warfare. It was effective as it continued to burn on water.
Greek fire was introduced in 672 AD in the reign of Emperor Constantine Pogonatus, the inventor being an architect called Callinicus of Heliopolis. Greek Fire was used in the great Siege of Constantinople and with success in their campaigns up to the 13th century.
Its exact composition is still a mystery. Naptha or petroleum is thought to have been the principal ingredient, probably with sulphur or pitch and other materials added. It’s not clear how it was ignited, but quicklime was probably used, mixed with the main ingredients at the last moment. Once lit, the substance was very difficult to extinguish needing sand or vinegar to do so. The mixture was packed into siphons, which were mounted in the bows of galleys.