One of the more entertaining scenes, at least for a WeaponsMan, in the old cult film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, involves the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.
For decades we’ve believed it to be a fiction, but it turns out that it might have been a real thing. Fox News reports on donations to an Israeli museum from a powerplant worker who collected artifacts that washed up on the beach,for his hobby. He passed away, and his survivors donated the items — which turned out to be older than anyone expected:
A centuries-old hand grenade that may date back to the time of the crusaders is among a host of treasures retrieved from the sea in Israel.
The metal artifacts, some of which are more than 3,500 years old, were found over a period of years by the late Marcel Mazliah, a worker at the Hadera power plant in northern Israel.
Mazliah’s family recently presented the treasures to the Israel Antiquities Authority. Experts, who were surprised by the haul, think that the objects probably fell overboard from a medieval metal merchant’s ship.
The hand grenade was a common weapon in Israel during the Crusader era, which began in the 11th century and lasted until the 13thcentury, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. Grenades were also used 12th and 13th century Ayyubid period and the Mamluk era, which ran from the 13th to the 16thcentury, experts say.
Haaretz reports that early grenades were often used to disperse burning flammable liquid. However, some experts believe that so-called ancient grenades were actually used to contain perfume.
The Haaretz story that Fox links is unfortunately off limits to goys and other nonsubscribers.
Sam Bostrom at Ancient-Origins.net tried to provide some technical background on the little bundle of joy illustrated here.
One of the most striking gems the family had hung onto is a beautifully decorated hand grenade, of a type commonly used during the Crusader, Ayyubid and Mamluk periods.
Hand grenades filled with Greek fire (burning naphta) was a Byzantine invention that spread to the Muslim armies in the Near East.
They were filled with Greek fire and sealed so that all a soldier needed to do was throw the grenade toward the enemy to eliminate him. Characteristics that made it singular include its ability to burn on water and stick onto surfaces, extinguishable with sand, vinegar, or–bizarrely–old urine. Some historians believe it could be ignited using water.
Although the technology has changed over the centuries, the concept remains that all the soldier need to do was to hurl the grenade toward the enemy and it´s disseminate burning naphtha at impact. The hand grenades we have now are a direct descendent of these contraptions; we’ve just updated the concept by using explosives instead.
Here’s a worker with the Israeli antiquities office, holding the milennium-old weapon.
Bottom line: Three is the number you shalt count. Five is right out. And perhaps your enemies will snuff it.