History’s Unknown, Part IV: Pot-Smoking Assassins

There is a story about an Old Man in the mountain who trained other men to kill false worshippers. He founded an Islamic sect headquartered at Alamut castle. The Old Man’s name was Hasan, and he was so shrewd that he was able to steal possession of the castle from its original owner all without a single drop of blood. 

This sect of Islamic fundamentalists supplied themselves with a very potent type of marijuana known as Hashish. This group of Muslims known to history as the Hashshashin Assassins, was an elite secret society of highly trained warriors who occupied the castle of Alamut. This palace was buried deep in what is now the Qazvin Province of Iran.

(Photo of the infamous hide-and-conceal daggers used by Assassins)

The Assassins (unrelated to the classic videogame) were a terrifying, clever, and zealous group of Islamic warriors. Operating in absolute stealth, none of their victims ever saw them coming. The Assassins themselves feared nothing, not even death, in fact they embraced it.

Like a pack of wolves preying in the woods, fear of the Assassins could be felt by all souls in the Islamic world from sultans and princes, to Christian kings and their knights, and the Pope and his Crusaders. The Christians received the stealth brutality of the Assassins, but the organization itself did not discourage from Killing Muslims either.

(Pictures of the Assassins victims)

Their victims numbered in the thousands, all while they smoked hash on a daily basis receiving hallucinations. Pictured at the top left is their first victim, Nizam al-Mulk. On the right is King Conrad of Jerusalem, whose belly was sliced open by the Assassins as he strolled down the city streets of his kingdom despite having an armed escort of guards. Yeah that’s exactly how good they were. 

Pictured at the bottom right is the first European to feel the poison daggers of the Assassins, Raymond II of Tripoli (Syria). Last, on the bottom left is the attempted assassination of King Edward I of England.

Back at Alamut castle, its grandmaster Hasan, his soldiers, and servants were getting their smoke on, delving deep into the aurora of hallucinations. Hasan would use hash to recruit young boys off the streets. Furthermore, the effects of the drug gave Hasan the power he needed to hypnotize and brainwash these young cadets, binding them to his will and bidding. The term Assassin originated from the term Hashshashin. 

Marco Polo had this to say about the young killers of Hashshashin “when these young men woke, and found themselves in the garden with all these marvelous things, they truly believed themselves to be in paradise. And these damsels were always with them in songs and great entertainments.” 

The garden Marco speaks of possesses rivers filled with honey and wine. Exotic plants like palm trees, and much more. The recruits first consumption of hash caused them to fall in a deep sleep for three days, and once under the Old Man’s spell after entering this “garden” they were promised a place in heaven. 

History’s Unknown, Part III: Ancient Graffiti

Recall how I began this series with a discussion on ancient emojis, well my third entry in the Unknown series follows along the same lines. Communication is the heart, but the smiley faces and taco symbols have been replaced with graffiti!

Graffiti is spontaneous! Unlike inscriptions made by stone, which last centuries graffiti can fade easily. Graffiti has been around forever; from ancient caves to carved mountainsides, to city murals. 

Graffiti is a work of art thrown or carved onto any kind of surface. Beyond that graffiti is a tool of many human expressions ranging from political uprising to advertising.

Pompeii, this ruined city houses the oldest known graffiti. Pictured above, the message reads “Gaius Pumidius Diphilus was here.” Dated October 3, 78. B.C.

Looking at the graffiti running along the walls and old town markets of Pompeii you’ll find messages and drawings references jokes, undying romance, insults, and even memorials for fallen loved ones. 

Thankfully, these ancient inscriptions survived the destruction of Pompeii. A volcanic explosion left Pompeii in an eternal coat of ash, but the graffiti left behind by its residents tells a story that recreates the city entirely. As you walk along the streets of this ruin reading the various messages written on the walls you begin to hear voices of the past.

The city continues to be one huge notebook, call it a writer’s paradise. It makes you wonder did people go around leaving messages on walls for their friends saying “let’s meet up, come by the market.” Very intriguing, as it can be considered the first text messages. 

The origin of social media lay here. Pompeii was a nexus city filled with informative inscriptions detailing merchant transactions to the birth of donkeys. I mean hell you could discover information about anywhere, anybody, and anything!!!!