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Although usage of the term “Greek fire” has been general in English and most other languages since the Crusades, original Byzantine sources called the substance a variety of names, such as “sea fire” (Medieval Greek: πῦρ θαλάσσιον pŷr thalássion), “Roman fire” (πῦρ ῥωμαϊκόν pŷr rhōmaïkón), “war fire” (πολεμικὸν πῦρ polemikòn pŷr), “liquid fire” (ὑγρὸν πῦρ hygròn pŷr), “sticky fire” (πῦρ κολλητικόν pŷr kollētikón), or “manufactured fire” (πῦρ σκευαστόν pŷr skeuastón).

424 BC. Thucydides mentions that in the siege of Delium a long tube on wheels was used which blew flames forward using large bellows.

C. 672 AD.  Proper Greek Fire development is ascribed by the chronicler Theophanes the Confessor to Kallinikos (Latinized Callinicus), an architect from Heliopolis in the former province of Phoenice, by then overrun by the Muslim conquests.

727 AD. Utilization of the substance was prominent in Byzantine civil wars.

821 – 823 AD. Used against the large-scale rebellion led by Thomas the Slav.

827 AD. The Arabs captured at least one fire ship intact.

941 AD. Used against the various Rus’ raids on the Bosporus.

970 – 971 AD. Used in the Byzantine – Bulgarian war.

1043 AD. Used against the various Rus’ raids on the Bosporus.

1099 AD. Used in a naval battle against the Pisans.

C. 1800 AD. It is reported that an Armenian by the name of Kavafian approached the government of the Ottoman Empire with a new type of Greek fire he claimed to have developed. Kavafian refused to reveal its composition when asked by the government, insisting that he be placed in command of its use during naval engagements. Not long after this, he was poisoned by imperial authorities, without their ever having found out his secret.

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