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700-year-old hand grenade from Crusades found in the sea off Israel

  • The clay hand grenade is shaped like an acorn with a fuse hole in the top
  • It would have been filled with flammable liquid and thrown at enemy ships
  • The grenade was part of a collection of relics pulled from the sea off Israel
  • Other items include a 3,500-year-old Bronze Age knife head and pin  

The crusades saw Christian soldiers wield a terrifying array of medieval weaponry, including powerful crossbows, wickedly spiked maces and swords large enough to cleave a man in two.

But in the bloody battles over the Holy Land, the crusaders faced, and perhaps also used, weapons that were far ahead of their time – hand grenades.

Now one of these early explosive devices has been pulled from the sea in northern Israel.


The clay device, which would have been filled with a flammable liquid with a burning fuse poked through a hole in the top, is thought to be about 700 years old.

These grenades were flung at enemy ships in an attempt to burn the wooden vessels.

Diego Barkan, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, told MailOnline: ‘These hand grenades were being used in the Byzantine and early Islamic period right up until the Ottomans.

‘It is made of a heavy clay and would have been used much like a Molotov cocktail.

‘Inside they would have put alcohol and lit a fuse poked in a hole in the top before throwing it towards the enemy ships.’

The grenade was recovered from the sea, along with a haul of other ancient artefacts, over several years by Marcel Mazliah, a worker at the Hadera power plant in northern Israel.

His family handed them over to the Israel Antiquities Authority following his death.

The oldest of the objects in the collection include a 3,500-year-old Bronze Age knife head and a toggle pin.

Metal mortar and pestles, along with fragments of



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