Hand grenades from 1,000 years ago found in Jerusalem

Ancient ceramic vessels dug up in Jerusalem were likely medieval hand grenades, according to new scientific analysis. Griffith University archaeologist Carney Matheson examined sherds of the vessels that contained traces of mercury, sulphur, aluminium, potassium, magnesium, nitrates, and phosphorous.

"These vessels have been reported during the time of the Crusades as grenades thrown against Crusader strongholds producing loud noises and bright flashes of light," Matheson said.

"Some researchers had proposed the vessels were used as grenades and held black powder, an explosive invented in ancient China and known to have been introduced into the Middle East and Europe by the 13th century. It has been proposed that black powder may have been introduced to the Middle East earlier, as early as these vessels from the 9th-11th century. However, this research has shown that it is not black powder and likely a locally invented explosive material." 

image: Robert Mason, Royal Ontario Museum