900-Year-Old Crusader Sword Found by Scuba Diver
The sword was discovered off the coast of Israel and likely belonged to a knight who lost the weapon in battle or fell overboard sailing to the Holy Land.
On October 9, Shlomi Katzin was diving in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of northern Israel when he came across the sword. Afraid the artifact might be stolen or reburied in the sand, Katzin retrieved it from the seabed and turned it into the authorities where he was awarded a certificate of appreciation for “good citizenship.”
Experts think the ancient sword was probably uncovered from the sand by waves and undercurrents. The site where the ancient weapon was found is being monitored by authorities. Since then, other artifacts have been found in the vicinity including metal and stone anchors and pottery fragments.
In the last four millennium, the area provided shelter for ancient ships and is the origin of many archaeological finds.
The four-foot-long iron sword is encrusted in marine life but in otherwise excellent condition. Experts say it was likely the consistent warm temperature of the Mediterranean that preserved this rare find so well. Buried under a deep layer of sand without much oxygen, the coating of shells and stones acted “like glue” as the iron of the sword oxidized.
“It is exciting to encounter such a personal object, taking you 900 years back in time to a different era, with knights, armor and swords,” said Nir Distelfeld, an official with the Israel Antiquities Authority, in a statement.
During the crusades, from 1096 to the late 13th century, settlements were built along the coast in the Holy Land by knights from Europe trying to establish a Christian kingdom. Experts say Muslim forces didn’t travel by sea at the time, indicating the 900-year-old sword is a crusader weapon.
c/o Israel Antiquities Authority
The sword weighs around 5-6 kilograms (11-13 pounds) due to its thick surrounding layer of marine organisms. Once cleaned, the sword itself will likely weigh 1-2 kilograms (2.2-4.4 pounds).
Made of iron, the sword would have been expensive at the time, meaning it was seen as a status symbol. “It could have been from a knight who fell in the sea or lost it in a fight at sea,” said Jonathan Phillips, a professor of the history of the Crusades at the University of London.
After the sword is thoroughly cleaned and researched, authorities intend to put it on display in one of the country’s museums. “Every ancient artifact that is found,” said Katzin, “helps us piece together the historical puzzle of the Land of Israel.”