A host of ancient treasures was retrieved from off the coast of Israel, containing what could possibly be one of the world’s oldest hand grenades, a weapon dating back to the time of the crusaders.

The artifacts were found at sea, off the coast of Israel.
Image credits Diego Barkan / Israel Antiquities Authority.

Several metal artifacts, some of which are more than 3,500 years old, were retrieved over a period of a few years by Marcel Mazliah, a late worker at the Hadera power plant in northern Israel. Mazliah’s family recently presented the objects to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA,) whose experts believe that the objects fell overboard from a medieval metal merchant’s ship.

Hand grenades, surprisingly enough, were a common weapon in Israel during the Crusades, which spanned from the 11th century until the 13th, according to the IAA. They also saw important use in the 12th and 13h century Ayyubid period and during the Mamluk era, from the 13th to the 16th century. Haaretz reports that these early grenades were used to disperse burning liquid on enemy formations, to break them apart and soften them up before a charge.

The presumed hand grenade was found in sea sediments and is hundreds of years old.
Image credits Amir Gorzalczany / Israel Antiquities Authority.

However, some experts believe that the so-called grenades had a different purpose altogether — they may have been ancient perfume containers.

Among the artifacts found by Mazliah are a toggle pin head and a knife-head from the Middle Bronze Age, both more than 3,500 years old. Ayala Lester, a curator at the Israel Antiquities Authority, said that the other items found, including two pestles and candlestick fragments, date back to the 11th century Fatimid period.

“The items were apparently manufactured in Syria and were brought to Israel,” she said, in a statement. “The finds are evidence of the metal trade that was conducted during this period.”

Israel is a hot-bed for ancient artifacts. Fabrics from king Solomon’s time have been discovered at one of antiquity’s most important mining areas, and glass foundries which sold their goods all over the Roman Empire have been found here. So what do you think about this latest find? Was this a tool for destruction — or seduction?


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