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A famous assassin from history, an agent of the Assassins (left, in white turban) fatally stabs Nizam al-Mulk, a Seljuk vizier, in 1092 AD. (14th-century AD manuscript) Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul.	 Source: Public Domain

7 Famous Deadly Assassins From History and What Drove Them

In the annals of history, there exist shadowy figures and clandestine groups whose lethal skills and cunning tactics have left an indelible mark on the world. These ancient assassins and covert...
Detail of ‘The Love Potion’ (1903) by Evelyn de Morgan. Unlike the creation of this woman, Locusta of Gaul’s potions were made in hatred. Source: Public Domain

Mithridatism is An Ancient Method to Become Poison-Proof

Defying death one sip at a time, mithridatism is the audacious ancient art of self-immunizing against poisons . Named after its most famous proponent, King Mithridates VI of Pontus , this practice...
Pharmaceutical poisons. Source: Tryfonov / Adobe Stock.

The Deadly Trail of Arsenic Through the Ages (Video)

Arsenic, a silent but deadly weapon, has stained history with its ominous presence. From ancient Rome to the 19th century, this odorless and tasteless poison has claimed countless lives. Arsenic's...
People have been dying to be beautiful for centuries, and toxic cosmetics are nothing new. Many makeup ingredients have proven painful, or even deadly, over the years. Source: KNV / Adobe Stock

Dying to be Beautiful: 7 Crazy Ingredients Used in Ancient Cosmetics

Makeup has been around for centuries, but getting your glam on in ancient times wasn’t as simple as going to your local Sephora. Before safe and regulated products existed on the market, ancient...
Europeans were terrified of tomatoes when they were first introduced. Source: humanissa_rt / Adobe Stock

Terrifying Tomatoes! Europeans Were Afraid of Newly Introduced ‘Poisonous Apples’

Everyone has a friend who hates tomatoes. But did you know that this fear or hatred of tomatoes is nothing new? Used in pizza , pasta and even gazpacho, the ubiquitous tomato is associated with Italy...
Temple of the Great Jaguar at Tikal in Guatemala, where high levels of mercury have been found. Source: IBRESTER / Adobe Stock

Meta-Study Shows Ancient Maya were at High Risk of Mercury Poisoning

The Maya Empire dominated large swaths of Mesoamerica for more than 3,000 years. But despite their impressive record of survival, the Maya civilization did not live completely in harmony with their...
The First Emperor of China was Killed by an Elixir of Immortality. Source:  ЮРИЙ ПОЗДНИКОВ / Adobe Stock

The First Emperor of China Took an ‘Elixir of Immortality’ Made of Mercury and it Killed Him

The First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, was terrified of death and much of his reign was focused on the search for immortality and the Elixir of Life. Ironically, Qin Shi Huang died from the toxic...
One of the skeletons believed to have died during an ancient poison gas attack

1,700-Year-Old Evidence of Chemical Warfare

One of the distinguishing features of the First World War was the widespread use of chemical weapons. Chemical gases of various lethality, including mustard gas, phosgene and tear gas, were used to...
Could the Mercury poisoning spike discovered in Iberian Copper Age bones be evidence that cinnabar powder was ingested during rituals? The healing art in pre-historic times, by Ernest Board. Source: Wellcome Trust / CC BY 4.0

Did Ritual Use of Cinnabar Cause Mercury Poisoning in Ancient Iberia?

A team of 14 biologists, chemists, physical anthropologists and archaeologists from the University of Seville have published a new study in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology . The...
La Voisin is believed to have poisoned thousands of people. Source: Igor Igorevich / Adobe Stock.

Who Was La Voisin? France’s Socialite Poisoner For Hire

In a darkened room stands a 40-year-old woman named Catherine Monvoisin. Her figure is lit only by torches held by the faceless men standing in front of her, men who are sentencing her to death by...
Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon's Love of Cologne May Be What Killed Him, Says UK Biochemist

There has long been speculation about the true cause of Napoleon Bonaparte’s death on the island of St. Helena on May 5, 1821. As we mark the 200th anniversary of this event, a biochemist from De...
160-Year-Old Japanese Medical Kit Contained Deadly Laxative

160-Year-Old Japanese Medical Kit Contained Deadly Laxative

Researchers studying the antique medicine chest of Japanese Edo -era physician , Ogata Koan, discovered enough poison to kill a small army. But why? Koan was a leading a 19th century Japanese medical...
Locustra testing Poison by Joseph-Noël Sylvestre

Top 10 Infamous Serial Killers from Ancient History

Serial killers are not a new phenomenon. Before Jack the Ripper began his legendary killing spree in London in the 1800s, there is a long list of infamous serial killers active throughout history...
Hidden Welsh Witchcraft Den And Demon Traps Discovered In Old Home

Hidden Welsh Witchcraft Den And Demon Traps Discovered In Old Home

A home full of occult objects has attracted enormous interest, recently. A hidden space beneath a staircase in a 16th-century Welsh home was filled with occult objects, including animal skulls and a...
Giulia Tofana was a 17th century leader of a poison cartel responsible for over 600 deaths thanks to her trademark poison Aqua Tofana. Source: Public domain

Giulia Tofana: Queenpin of the Criminal Magical Underworld

Between the years of 1630 to 1655, Giulia Tofana and her poison cartel were the primary facilitators of well over 600 deaths, by way of disgruntled wife, through their trademark poison known as Aqua...
Painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, titled The Cripples, shows victims of the "Holy Fire" disease.        Source: Pieter Brueghel the Elder / Public domain

Rare Ergotism or “Holy Fire” Disease Mysteriously Strikes Indian Woman

We have all heard of Bubonic plague , smallpox and typhoid , but between 990 and 1130 AD it is estimated that over 50,000 people died from the so-called “Holy Fire” disease in southern France alone,...
The ancient Maya may have abandoned Tikal after its water became toxic. Source: Ingo Bartussek /Adobe Stock

The Ancient Maya Poisoned Tikal’s Drinking Water

Reservoirs in the heart of an ancient Maya city were so polluted with mercury and algae that the water likely was undrinkable. Researchers from the University of Cincinnati found toxic levels of...
Apothecary vintage set of bottles, herbs and mortar Source: Kiryl Lis/ Adobe Stock

Mithridate, Universal Antidote or the Ultimate Hoax?

Mithridate was one of the most complex and highly sought-after preparations during the Middle Ages and Renaissance era. This somewhat mythical, ancient tonic which contained more than 60 ingredients...
Hundreds of bottles of poisonous beer have been found at the site in Leeds, England. Source: Archaeological Services WYAS

Hundreds of Toxic Beer Bottles Found Under Old English House

Digging at the site of an old Victorian brewery in the city of Leeds in the northern English county of Yorkshire, archaeologists discovered 19th-century bottles of beer neatly stacked under a...
Detail of ‘The Love Potion’ (1903) by Evelyn de Morgan. Unlike the creation of this woman, Locusta of Gaul’s potions were made in hatred. Source: Public Domain

Locusta of Gaul – Nero’s Notorious Poison Maker

Poison was always the silent killer. Kings and emperors fell prey to it as easily as an unsuspecting servant. Throughout medieval and classical history, poison and those who knew how to prepare it...
Cleopatra Testing Poisons on Condemned Prisoners by Alexandre Cabanel (1887) (Public Domain)

Poison Paranoia: Mythical Antidotes of Ancient Alchemists

Of all the ways to murder someone poisoning must be the most underhanded and downright evil way to proceed. The whole art of poisoning, as it is often referred too, was developed as a stealth way to...
Roman wine was sweetened with toxic 'sugar of lead'

Savoring the Danger: Romans Loved Toxic 'Sugar of Lead' Wine

How far did ancient people go to enhance the flavor of their food and drinks? Would they consume toxic substances if it made things a little more appetizing? The Romans did, by adding a sweet version...
Several of the ancient pigments were deadly. Photo source: Ezume Images / Adobe Stock.

Poisonous Pigments: History’s Deadliest Colors

Throughout history, ancient civilizations have been using all kinds of ingenious ways to create pigments for the coloring of clothing, objects and even buildings. While some of the pigments were...
The Grauballe Man is a bog body that was uncovered in 1952 from a peat bog near the village of Grauballe in Jutland, Denmark.

What Killed Grauballe Man? Explaining the Puzzle of the Iron Age Bog Body

Grauballe Man is the name given to a bog body that was discovered in Denmark during the 20 th century. Initially, it was thought that the bog body belonged to a local peat cutter who mysteriously...

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