Scuba diver discovers 900-year-old Crusader sword off Israeli coast

October 19, 2021 by TPS
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Shlomi Katzin, a resident of the coastal town of Atlit in the north, was scuba diving last Saturday off the Carmel coast when he was amazed to discover ancient artefacts on the sea bed, apparently uncovered by waves and undercurrents that had shifted the sand.

Photo by Anastasia Shapiro/Israel Antiquities Authority

He saw ancient stone anchors, anchors made of metal, pottery fragments, and an impressive sword with a one-meter-long blade and a hilt measuring 30 cm in length.

The sword, made of Iran and apparently owned by a Crusader Night, has been preserved in perfect condition and is a rare find. It was found encrusted with marine organisms.

“The Carmel coast contains many natural coves that provided shelter for ancient ships in a storm, and larger coves around which entire settlements and ancient port cities developed, such as Dor and Atlit,” explained Kobi Sharvit, director of the IAA’s Marine Archaeology Unit. “These conditions have attracted merchant ships down the ages, leaving behind rich archaeological finds. The recently recovered sword is just one such find.”

The site sat which the anchors and the sword were found has been monitored by the IAA since June, when it was first discovered by Boaz Langford and Rafael Bahalul. The site’s finds are very elusive since they appear and disappear with the movement of the sands.

“The discovery of ancient finds by swimmers and leisure divers is a growing phenomenon in recent years, with the increasing popularity of such sports,” said Sharvit.

“Underwater surveying is dynamic. Even the smallest storm moves the sand and reveals areas on the sea bed, meanwhile burying others. It is therefore vitally important to report any such finds and we always try to document them in situ, in order to retrieve as much archaeological data as possible,” he explained.

The archaeological finds at the site show that it served as a small, temporary natural anchorage for ships seeking shelter. 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 cove was also used in the Crusader period, some 900 years ago.

Fearing that the find would be stolen or buried beneath subsequent shifting of the sands, Katzin took the sword ashore. Demonstrating citizenship, he contacted the inspector for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) Northern District’s Robbery Prevention Unit and reported the find.

The sword was handed over to the National Treasures Department and Katzin received a certificate of appreciation for good citizenship.


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