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Greek Fire

5 July 2010

www.livescience.com/history June 28th … Greek inventor Archimedes is said to have used mirrors to burn the ships of an attacking Roman fleet advancing on Syracuse. The story comes from the medieval period and appears to be an attempt, at that time, to try and understand what Archimedes did. New research has suggested he may have used steam cannons and fiery cannonballs, instead of mirrors (a process that is too slow). The battle took place between 214 and 212BC but no contemporary Greek or Roman source mentions a device involving mirrors. Leonardo Da Vinci, in the 15th century, a sort of modern Archimedes figure, actually sketched a steam cannon which he credited to Archimedes. The historian Plutarch also mentions a device used against the beseiging Roman army at the walls of Syracuse – which involved a fiery substance.

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