Ancient hand grenade from the Crusades

Not sure how I missed this story back in August.

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 13th century, 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 16th century, experts say.

Read more from Fox News.

(Photographic credit: Amir Gorzalczany, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Making suits of armor

Watch how suits of armor are constructed in this How It’s Made program, originally aired on the Discovery channel.

How It’s Made – Suits of Armor

Here is also an interesting article from the Scientific American on how medieval armor may have been more of a hindrance than a benefit on the battlefield: “Medieval Armor: Was it Worth the Weight?

Though by the time combatants were wearing these heavy suits of armor, the knight had basically become obsolete with the increasing use of gunpowder-based weapons. As such, the knight decked out in his shining armor was more for show in tournament style displays than for actual, useful function on the battlefield.

*image is from Galerie des armes et armures, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, licensed under the Creative Commons Attriubtion-Share Alike license, uploaded by Mattes.

The Medieval Spear

From Regia Anglorum:

The main weapon of the period was the spear, not only for the peasant but also for the professional soldier and even the nobility. It was the traditional weapon that Woden used and remained the weapon par excellence among the Germanic peoples even during the tenth and eleventh centuries.

At the battle of Maldon in 991 the Eorl led his men into battle armed with his ‘spear and shield’; it was only after he had killed two men with his spears that he then drew his sword to engage a third man.

There were several types of spear. The first was the light throwing spear or javelin. Manuscripts of the period often show warriors holding a number of spears in the shield hand (three seems to be the most practical whilst still gripping the shield, as shown in tests), and another in the weapon hand. Presumably most of these were for throwing as the opposing sides closed, whilst the last was retained for hand to hand combat. In early Anglo-Saxon times some Germanic warriors used a special type of javelin known as an ‘angon’. This was most probably based on the Roman pilum, and had an elongated iron socket, often as long as 75cm (30′), and a barbed head. When this type of spear stuck into a shield it would sink in up to the barbs, bend, and make it very difficult to remove. With the angon firmly embedded, the shield would become too cumbersome to move, thus rendering it useless. This would perhaps then cause the warrior to discard his shield, or at least retire to find another, thus removing him from the action.

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Additional Reading:

Medieval Trebuchet at the Ozark Medieval Fortress

From the Ozark Medieval Castle Guide blog:

On tour at the Ozark Medieval Fortress, after seeing the full-sized trebuchet, guests often ask, “How far will that catapult throw a stone?” It is really common for people to get mixed up on the Medieval war machines. There is a big difference between a catapult and a trebuchet (and, for that matter, a ballista).

Read the full article.

Medieval Weapons Recreated for the New Robin Hood Movie

“To bring director Ridley Scott’s battle for Sherwood Forest to life, designers had to re-create 13th-century weapons, from fire grenades to battering rams. Popular Mechanics goes behind the scenes with the creators of the new Robin Hood to see how it was done.”

It’s interesting that they made all of the longbows by hand using yew and ash and sycamore wood.

Read more …