Greek Fire, also referred to as liquid fire (ὑγρόν πῦρ, hygron pyr), was one of the most famous weapons of the Byzantine arsenal and its use played a crucial role in the defence of the Empire, ensuring its long survival. A vessel, such as this example, would be filled with the highly flammable compound, consisting of naphtha and quicklime, then plugged with a fuse through its mouth. When lit and thrown, these pieces became very effective hand grenades in battle, particularly against an enemy’s wooden ships since ‘Greek Fire’ was resistant to water. Such weaponry was tailored to the location of Constantinople, the capital of Byzantium, since its coastal position required frequent defence against naval attacks.
To find out more about Byzantine hand grenades please see our relevant blog post: Byzantine Fire Grenades