A study on the vessels titled "Composition of trace residues from the contents of 11th-12th century sphero-conical vessels from Jerusalem" has published in the journal PLoS One.
The ancient ceramic vessels originated from Jerusalem sometime around the 11th and 12th centuries, and new analysis indicates they may have been used as a form of medieval hand grenade. Researchers found similar vessels often contained scented oils, medicines, and various materials, but the vessels they analyzed appear to have been used to hold flammable and potentially explosive material.
Similar vessels have been reported as being used during the time of the Crusades and were known for "producing loud noises and bright flashes of light." The material inside the vessels analyzed indicates it was a unique, locally produced explosive, not black powder.
"Some researchers had proposed the vessels were used as grenades and held black powder, an explosive invented in ancient China and known to have been introduced into the Middle East and Europe by the 13th century. It has been proposed that black powder may have been introduced to the Middle East earlier, as early as these vessels from the ninth to 11th century. However, this research has shown that it is not black powder and likely a locally invented explosive material," said Griffith University's Associate Professor Carney Matheson.
You can read more from the study here.
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