Israel, amateur diver discovers 900-year-old sword of a Crusader knight in the sea

In Israel, in front of the beaches of Haifa, an amateur diver discovered an intact sword in the sea, which has since been studied by archaeologists: it is believed to be the sword of a 900-year-old crusader knight.

A 900-year-old Crusader sword has been discovered in Israel in the sea off the beach at Hof HaCarmel, a seaside resort near Haifa, one of the country’s major cities. The sword was discovered by chance by an amateur diver, Shlomi Katzin, a resident of Atlit, who was scuba diving off the coast of Mount Carmel last Saturday when he noticed, to his amazement, the presence of some ancient artifacts on the seabed, apparently uncovered by the waves and underground currents that had shifted the sand. Among the artifacts were stone and metal anchors, fragments of pottery, and an intact sword with a meter-long blade and a 30-cm-long hilt.

Katzin immediately contacted theIsrael Antiquities Authority and handed the sword over to them after taking it out of the water, for he feared that by leaving it where it was, someone might steal it or the waves might cover it again. The sword was thus entrusted to the National Treasury Department, and Shlomi Katzin received an important award for his action, which qualified him as a model citizen. Once the sword has been cleaned and researched in the laboratories of the Israel Antiquities Authority, it will be shown to the public.

According to Nir Distelfeld, inspector of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit, “The sword, which has been preserved in perfect condition, is a beautiful and rare find and evidently belonged to a Crusader knight. It was found encrusted with marine organisms, but apparently it is made of iron. It is exciting to come across such an extraordinary object, which takes you back 900 years in time to a different era with knights, armor and swords.”

“The Carmel coast,” explains Kobi Sharvit, director of marine archaeology at the Israel Antiquities Authority, “contains many natural inlets that provided shelter for ancient ships in storms and larger inlets around which entire settlements and ancient port cities, such as Dor and Atlit, developed. These conditions have attracted merchant ships over the centuries, leaving behind rich archaeological finds. The recently recovered sword is just one such find.”

The site where the anchors and sword were found has been monitored by the Israel Antiquities Authority since June, when it was discovered. The finds at the site are very elusive, as they appear and disappear with the movement of the sands. “The discovery of ancient finds by amateur swimmers and divers,” Sharvit explains, “is a growing phenomenon in recent years, with the increasing popularity of such sports. Underwater surveying is dynamic. Even the smallest storm shifts sand and reveals areas on the seafloor, burying others. It is therefore vital to report such finds, and we always try to document them in situ in order to recover as much archaeological data as possible.”

The archaeological finds at the site show that this stretch of coastline served as a small temporary natural anchorage for ships seeking shelter. The identification of the various finds shows that the anchorage was used as early as the Late Bronze Age, 4,000 years ago. The recent discovery of the sword suggests that the natural bay was also used in the Crusader period, about 900 years ago.

Pictured: the found sword. Photo by Shlomi Katzin

Israel, amateur diver discovers 900-year-old sword of a Crusader knight in the sea
Israel, amateur diver discovers 900-year-old sword of a Crusader knight in the sea