Crusade-era “Holy Hand Grenade” Unearthed

Grenades: proof that once upon a time, somebody said, “I want that guy over there to be in tiny bits and pieces, but I don’t want to do it personally with an axe.”

When one thinks of the crusades, there are certain images that come to mind: swords, knights, bloodbaths, Jerusalem getting sacked by Christians and Muslims, people using religion on both sides of the conflict to justify their actions, etc., etc., etc. What probably doesn’t come to mind is modern weaponry. I mean, why should it? The most complex weapon in the crusades was probably the catapult. Well, as it turns out, apparently hand grenades had a part to play in the crusades!

In Israel, a Crusades-era hand grenade was found and retrieved from the sea. The family that found the old relic has handed it over to the Israeli Antiquities Authority.

Nothing like the ones made today, this grenade was made from heavy clay and is beautifully embossed, it does not explode with shrapnel like the hand grenades of this generation, but it is more like a Molotov cocktail or incendiary grenade.

It was filled with naphtha, a flammable sticky liquid known as Greek fire, then sealed and thrown at enemies.

It was mostly known to be used in naval battles where the fire would easily destroy enemies’ ships. The IAA stated that the grenades were very popular in Israel during the crusades, which took place between the 11th to 13th century, and they were used until the Mamluk era, between the 13th and 16th century.

Here is a picture of the grenade:


It looks more like a perfume or cologne bottle, to me. Then again, I’m probably just saying that so I can make a “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” joke.

This grenade, sadly no longer full of Greek Fire, was discovered by the late Marcel Mazliah, a worker at a power plant in northern Israel. Apparently this grenade was not the only thing he found, though. Marcel’s family turned in his entire collection of things he found in the sea where he worked. Apparently he also had a knife head, some mortars and pestles, and other archeological finds that date back almost 3,500 years. So, this guy would have been a fascinating episode of “Hoarders.”

Isn’t it amazing how much ingenuity people can have when it comes to killing each other?


One thought on “Crusade-era “Holy Hand Grenade” Unearthed

  1. george mckinney says:

    Yes it is amazing. New, better, faster ways – and yet we continue to grow our population. Reminds me of fire ants – just can’t seem to kill enough of them.


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