This might look like just a beautiful highly decorated vessel, but it is in fact the container of a deadly weapon.

Known as the first grenades, these ‘Greek Fire’ Grenades were created by Byzantine soldiers to increase their might on the water. A very Christian empire, it was said that Constantine the Great had been given the recipe for the substance by an angel. Following this tradition being a chemist who created this mixture was known as practicing a ‘divine art.’

It’s winning feature was that it stayed alight on water and therefore could not be put out by it. It was quickly discovered sand, vinegar and old urine were the only substances that could smite it out!

Out of stock


900-1200 AD, Byzantine. Decorated Byzantine “Greek fire” grenade comprising a glazed red-brownish vessel with a domed lid, a short, cylindrical neck, and a globular body decorated with crescent-shaped impressions which tapers into a pointed base. The body is decorated with large almond-shaped bosses and small incised almond-shaped depressions to provide extra grip to the thrower. Globular vessels such as this example are frequently interpreted as an early type of hand grenades.

It is believed that these jars could have contained an incendiary agent such as the infamous “Greek fire” which was impervious to water, making them invaluable weapons in naval battles. Unfortunately, the recipe for “Greek fire” was lost with the fall of the Byzantine empire, but it was likely a petroleum-based mixture. Superb condition, custom-made stand.

Size: L:165mm / W:85mm ; 910g

Provenance: From an old British collection of Asian Art formed in the 1990 on the UK and European art market.

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