Were bombs used in the Crusades?

black steel helmet near black and gray handle sword

I have just returned from a ten day visit to Jordan – a country with an amazing history sandwiched between Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Over the next few blog posts, I’m going to share the incredible places I visited. In this post, I look at evidence that bombs – of a primitive nature – were used in the Crusades.

Did sieges in the crusades involve the use of primitive bombs?

I visited Ajlun castle in Jordan last week – a fort built by one of Saladin’s generals guarding nearby iron mines. There’s a small museum in the castle and it includes some mysterious circular bottles made of glass and mud.

These strange vessels have been found all over the Levant – and in areas where fighting occurred between Saladin’s Ayyubid forces and the crusader kingdoms. Some have been found to have traces of mercury while others were filled with oil or so-called “Greek fire” (pictured below) – a petroleum like incendiary substance developed by the Byzantines. This was fired from Byzantine ships at invading Muslim forces.

Their narrow base allows them to roll fast when they hit the ground and the small size of the top doesn’t really allow for serving any liquid. It’s quite clear to many historians that these were used for military and not any domestic purpose. They were – basically – bombs.

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Please excuse slight blurring on the close up shot but they were in glass cases in a dark room and there’s only so much my camera can cope with.

Ajlun castle bomb
Ajlun castle bomb

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