Item Details

Medieval Islamic Fire Grenades: Further Evidence from a Military Context

Issue: Vol 3 No. 2 (2016) The Sphero-conical vessel: Name, object and usage

Journal: Journal of Islamic Archaeology

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/jia.v3i2.32824


Some fragments of broken sphero-conical vessels were found in one of the southern Towers of the Citadel of Damascus. Though not unusual in themselves, these fragments are of particular interest because they formed part of a cache of Islamic military equipment dating from the 13th and 14th centuries. Such an association might lend weight to the theory that such vessels had a military function; for example being used as incendiary or even semi-explosive grenades. This article considers such a possibility and compares the fragments with others found across a large part of the medieval Islamic world, and indeed beyond. The article also offers a survey of historical, archaeological and iconographic evidence for the use of incendiary grenades within medieval Islamic military tradition and technology.

Author: David Nicolle

View Original Web Page

References :

Arendt, W.

1931. “Die Spharische-Konischen Gefässe aus Gebrannten Ton.” Zeitschrift für Historische Waffen- und Kostümkunde 1931: 206–210.

Harvey, G. E.

1925. History of Burma. London: Longmans.

Hill, D. R. and A. Y. Hassan.

1986. Islamic Technology: An Illustrated History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Iṣfahānī, ʿImād al-Dīn al-Kātib al- .

1888. Conquête de la Syria et de la Palestine, I , edited by Le Comte Carlo de Landberg. Leiden: Brill.

Jāḥiz, al- .

1948. Al-Bayān wa’l-Tabyīn, edited by H. al-Sundūbī. Cairo: Maktabat al-Khānjī.

Joinville, Jean.

1952. “Histoire de Saint Louis.” In Historiens et Chroniqueurs du Moyen Age, edited by A. Pauphilet, 195–366. Paris: Gallimard.

Lyons, M. C. and D.E.P. Jackson.

1982 Saladin, The Politics of the Holy War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Masʿūdī, al- .

1861–1877. Murūj al-Ḍahab: Les Prairies d’Or [vol. 2]. Edited and translated by C. Barbier de Maynard and P. de Courteill. Paris: Imprimerie Impériale.

Mubārakshāh, Muḥammad Ibn Mansūr Fakhr al-Dīn.

1967. Ādab al-ḥarb waʾl-Shujāʿah, edited by A.S. Khwānsārī. Tehran: Iqbāl.

Nicolle, D. C.

2008. “Trésors oubliés: Dépôts d’armes et d’armures médiévales en Syrie.” Histoires et Images Médiévales: Thématiques 14 (August-October 2008): 26–33.

2011. Late Mamlūk Military Equipment. Collection Travaux et Études de la Mission Archéologique Syro-Française, Citadelle de Damas (1999–2006): Volume III. Damascus: IFPO.

2012. “Another Hoard of Medieval Military Equipment from the Citadel of Damascus.” Bulletin of the Council for British Research in the Levant 7: 54–56.

2016a “Mamlūk saddles: Surviving fragments in their historical context.” In Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras VIII, edited by U. Vermeulen, K. D’Hulster and J. Van. Steenbergen, 463–491. Leuven: Peeters.

2016b. “‘Take shavings of rawhide’: Mamluk examples of al-Ṭarsūsī’s style of hardened leather helmet from the Citadel of Damascus.” In Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras VIII, edited by U. Vermeulen, K. D’Hulster and J. Van. Steenbergen, 493–519. Leuven: Peeters.

Pryor, J. and E. M. Jeffreys.

2006. The Age of the ΔΡΟΜΩΝ: The Byzantine Navy ca. 500–1204. Leiden: Brill.

Raban, A.

1972–1975. “The Mercury Carrier from the Red Sea.” Sefunim Bulletin 4: 28–32.

Sezgin, F.

2004 Science et Technique en Islam, Tome V: Physique et Technique, Architecture, Technique Militaire, Objets Antiques. Frankfurt: Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität.

Ṭarsūsī, al- .

1947–1948. “Un traité d’armurerie composé pour Saladin.” Edited and translated by C. Cahen. Bulletin d’Etudes Orientales 12: 103–160.

Usāmah Ibn Munqidh

1929 Kitāb al-Iʿtibār. Edited by P. K. Hitti. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


2001. Vegatius: Epitome of Military Science. Translated by N. P. Milner. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.