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November 29, 2007

Cursed rams

Microbiologist Siro Trevisanato believes Hittites used "cursed" rams infected with tularemia as an early biological WMD.

He believes tularemia is to blame for a deadly epidemic dubbed the "Hittite plague" which raged through the Middle East in the 14th century BC. Around 1335 BC, letters to the Egyptian king Akhenaten reported a pestilence in Simyra, a Phoenician city near what is now the border between Lebanon and Syria. The texts describe a terrible illness causing disabilities and death. Most tellingly, they mention that, because of the plague, donkeys were banned from being used in caravans.

The Phoenicians of Simyra took a hit and were subsequently vulnerable to Hittite raiding. Fifteen years later when mysterious rams began appearing on roads in Arzawa the locals must have thought it was good fortune until the plague struck, again to Hittite advantage. Once could be an accident. Twice looks like you meant it.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at November 29, 2007 06:17 AM