Israel Antiquities Authority reports underwater find of 900-year-old sword of a knight-crusader
Recently, an Israeli diver discovered ancient objects at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea near Hof HaCarmel, among which there was a sword of amazing preservation. According to experts from the Israel Antiquities Authority, the iron sword with a blade of about one meter and a 30-centimeter handle belonged to a crusader and dates back to the 12th century.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced in December last year a rare find. Scuba diver Shlomi Katzin discovered a cluster of ancient artifacts while diving in the Hof HaCarmel area. Among them, on the seabed, the diver saw a completely intact iron sword. The surface of the weapon was completely covered with marine sediments and shells of mollusks. However, the meter-long blade and 30-centimeter hilt survived.
Fearing that the unexpected find would be covered in sand or someone kidnapped, the scuba diver lifted the sword from the water and handed it to the IAA’s Robbery Prevention Department. Its inspector Neil Distelfeld believes the massive bladed weapon is at least 900 years old. It fell into the hands of a diver from the era of knights, armor and swords – the time of the Crusades.
The crusades to the Holy Land began after Pope Urban II’s call in 1095 to liberate Jerusalem from Muslims. After the first successful campaign in 1099, the Middle East experienced eight more knightly expeditions over the course of two centuries. During this time, the crusaders created four states in the Levant, several times took and lost Jerusalem and other centers of the Eastern Mediterranean. In northern Israel, the Crusades left many traces. The most famous are the knightly fortress in Akko and the residence of the Grand Masters of the Teutonic Order (1230-1271) – Montfort Castle, whose ruins are located 35 kilometers northeast of Haifa.
The location of the medieval sword is already known to Israeli researchers. Earlier, underwater archaeologists have raised numerous ancient artifacts from the bottom of the sea in this place. Among them is a 4000-year-old anchor lost by seafarers of the Late Bronze Age. According to Kobe Sharwit, director of the IAA’s Marine Archeology Unit, underwater archaeological finds off the coast along the Carmel Massif are not uncommon. The coast here is densely indented by natural bays. Seafarers have used them as ports and natural shelters since ancient times. Gradually, port cities such as Atlit and Dor arose around the bays. Underwater finds include stone and iron anchors, fragments of vessels and shipwrecks. Storms are constantly moving the sand near the bottom, revealing new artifacts that scientists are eagerly awaiting reports about.
Photo: Scuba diver Shlomi Katzin with his underwater find: a medieval sword of a crusader / Nir Distelfeld, IAA