The Mystery of Phoenicians’ “Death Smile”

About 2800 years ago, on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, some Phoenicians died with mysterious and terrible smiles on their faces. Researchers once suspected that the ancient Phoenicians used toxic gases to make people produce such strange expressions. Italian scientists said that the answer to Phoenicians’ “death smile” was not a poisonous gas, but a botanical drug. They also believe that one day, the plant may have the same cosmetic effect as botulinum, reducing wrinkles on people’s faces.
In the 8th century BC, Homer, an ancient Greek poet, created the word “sar-donicgrin)-in his works. among them,” sardonic “originated from” Sardinia “and refers to the killing ceremony on Sardinia, in which a drug makes the dead face smile. According to the latest research, the elderly and prisoners who are unable to take care of themselves and need people to take care of them are forced to drink this mysterious drug and then fall into an illusion, fall off a cliff and die, or be beaten to death. For thousands of years, the exact nature of this mysterious drug has been a mystery. Organic chemist Deiberson Geovanni Appendino of the Oriental University of Piedmont in Italy and his colleagues said a few days ago that they have solved the mystery. The main ingredient of “Death Smile Poison” is found in a plant called “Saffron-colored Watercress”. This white-flowered plant has celery-like rhizomes and is mainly distributed along ponds and rivers in Sardinia.
About ten years ago, a shepherd in Sardinia committed suicide and had a terrible smile on his face. According to the investigation, he ate saffron cress before he died. This incident brought great enlightenment to the botanist Moro valero of the University of Cagliari, so he launched a detailed investigation into every death related to watercress in Sardinia in recent decades.
In the latest study, valero and his colleagues described in detail the molecular structure of saffron cresol toxin to determine its impact on human body. Appendino, who led the study, said: “Saffron-colored cress contain high levels of toxins and can cause symptoms similar to the death smile described by ancient people, such as facial paralysis.”
He said: “We know that saffron cress contains neurotoxin, which is probably the kind of plant that made ancient Phoenicians’ smile and die.” Appendino said that the Sardinian buttercup was also one of the candidate poisons, but according to historical records, this plant cannot grow in humid places, and its toxicity is inconsistent with the historical description. “Besides, Sardinia is the only place in the entire Mediterranean where crocus-colored cress grow.”
Saffron-colored cress is one of the deadly hemlock family members. This plant is especially dangerous because it emits an aromatic smell and has a sweet root. Appendino said: “Normally, poisonous plants have a slightly bitter taste, or people avoid them when they see them. Saffron cress is the second poisonous plant I have heard that appeals to our senses. People may eat it without warning. ” He estimated that saffron-colored cress may prove to have cosmetic effects: “It relaxes facial muscles, so it can eliminate wrinkles on the face.”