What Was the First Biological Warfare in World History?

Biological warfare, also known as germ warfare, is a type of warfare that involves the use of biological agents such as bacteria, viruses, and toxins to cause harm to humans and animals. While this method of warfare is considered to be relatively modern, the use of biological agents in warfare dates back centuries. In fact, the first recorded instance of biological warfare can be traced back to ancient times.

During the 6th century BC, the Assyrians poisoned enemy wells with a fungus that contained ergot. This fungus caused hallucinations and convulsions in those who drank from the poisoned wells. This early example of biological warfare was effective in weakening the enemy’s army and was considered a successful tactic.

Moving forward in history, during the 14th century AD, Tartar forces used plague-infested corpses as a form of biological warfare during the siege of Kaffa (now Feodosiya) on the Crimean Peninsula. The Tartars catapulted the infected corpses into the city in an attempt to spread disease among their enemies. This gruesome method was effective at spreading disease and resulted in an outbreak of bubonic plague within Kaffa.

During World War I, both German and Allied forces experimented with various forms of biological weapons. The Germans were particularly notorious for using chlorine gas and other poisonous gases against their enemies. However, it wasn’t until World War II that biological weapons were used on a large scale.

In 1940, Japan’s Unit 731 began conducting experiments on prisoners using various strains of deadly diseases such as anthrax and bubonic plague. These experiments resulted in thousands of deaths and were considered some of the most heinous war crimes committed during World War II.

In conclusion, while modern biological warfare may be seen as a recent development, its use can be traced back thousands of years. From poisoning wells with ergot-infected fungus to using infected corpses as weapons during sieges to conducting heinous experiments on prisoners, the history of biological warfare is a dark and unsettling one.