Ancient Grenades & Fire Bombs

Grenades have stood the test of time as a formidable choice of weapon: still in use today even beyond the battlefield, with smoke grenades employed to control riotous crowds, the earliest prototype date back to the Byzantine Empire. During this period, commencing shortly after the reign of Leo III (717-741 AD), grenades were made of terracotta, and had a hole near the top for the insertion of chemicals necessary for ‘Greek fire’ (naptha). Greek fire’s remarkable refusal to be extinguished by water made grenades a popular choice of missile during naval battles, and their design soon inspired the Islamic hand grenade (fine examples of which we also boast in our collection). The term ‘grenade’ was later coined by the French army, on account of the weapon’s resemblance to a pomegranate.

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