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5912. An Islamic terracotta fire grenade.

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A Medieval Islamic
terracotta fire grenade with impressed decoration at the top.

During the early Middle Ages and the Crusades, both Byzantine and Arab armies
used such as these which were known as 'Greek Fire' grenades.

They were filled with explosive material and metal debris and hurled  at the enemy, by hand or catapult.

The composition of the incendiary material remains a matter of speculation with
proposals including combinations of pine resin, naphtha, quicklime, sulphur,
or nitre (saltpetre).

They were apparently mainly used in sieges and naval
combat and definitely at the siege and downfall of Constantinople.

The first grenades appeared in the Eastern Roman (Byzantine)
Empire, not long after the reign of Leo III (717-741). The use spread to Muslim armies in the Near East, from
where it reached China by the 10th century


NB: the top had broken off and has been mended. 

Unused and empty of explosive of course!

Circa 8th to 11th century


Price: 135 GBP

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