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Scythicon – scary poison of Scythians

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Scythian horseman
Scythian Horseman | Photo: Bronti

Scythicon was a poison that the Scythians used and covered their arrowheads. This poison had a terrible fame in ancient times.

It was a mixture of rotten bodies of small snakes and their venom, human blood and excrement buried in the ground until complete decomposition1. A person hit by a poison arrow had to face a heavy death even within an hour. First, in the place where the arrowhead hit, tissue necrosis appeared, swollen arms and legs; vomiting, convulsions, severe pain and finally death. Even if the body was strong enough to survive the first shock, after 1-2 days gangrene was caused by bacteria from faeces and rot.

Ovid claimed that this substance, when applied to the arrowhead, “which promises a double death”.

  1. Claudius Aelianus, De Natura Animalium, 9.15
  • Adrienne Mayor, Grecki ogień, zatrute strzały, bomby skorpionów. Broń chemiczna i biologiczna w świecie starożytnym, 2006
  • Kaori O'Connor, The Never-ending Feast: The Anthropology and Archaeology of Feasting
  • Philip Wexler, History of Toxicology and Environmental Health: Toxicology in Antiquity II

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