Now, if you had put that stuff in the hands of a Persian 1700-years ago, he'd have known what to do with it - kill Romans, that's what.
Take the sulfur from the petcoke, combine it with the bitumen, set the mixture alight and you've got a dandy poison gas, perhaps the very first chemical weapon of mass destruction.
A British archaeologist has found evidence that just such a weapon was employed by Persian forces to take down Roman troops defending a fort in eastern Syria.
British archeologist Dr Simon James believes 20 Roman soldiers may have been killed by lethal poisonous gas during a Persian attack on their fort at Dura-Europas in Eastern Syria during the 3rd century.
|Very Ex-Roman Soldier|