Iron knife ‘found covered with marine organisms’
A 900-year-old sword believed to belong to a crusader on his way to the Holy Land has been found at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel.
The Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) said the metre-long knife covered in mussels was discovered on the seabed along the Carmel coast by amateur scuba diver Shlomi Katzin.
Nir Distelfeld, inspector of the IAA’s Anti-Theft Unit, said: “The sword, preserved in excellent condition, is a beautiful and rare find and obviously belongs to a Crusader knight.
“It was found covered with marine organisms, but apparently made of iron. It is exciting to encounter such a personal object that takes you back 900 years, to a different era with knights, armor and swords.”
The Crusaders used the 11th Century to regain control of the Holy Land, which roughly corresponded to the position of the modern state of Israel. and 13. it was the name given to those who participated in the military expeditions of Christian forces between the decenturys.
It is believed that the shifting sands at the bottom of the sea revealed the distinctive weapon with its 30cm-long hilt. An ancient stone, metal anchors and pottery fragments were found next to the sword, which will be on display after it has been cleaned and restored.
Kobi Sharvit, director of the institution’s marine archaeology unit, suggested that the location, a natural bay near the port city of Haifa, serves as a haven for sailors.
“These conditions have attracted merchant ships for ages, leaving behind rich archaeological finds,” he said.
“The coast of Carmel contains many natural bays that provide shelter for old ships in a storm, and larger bays around which entire settlements and ancient port cities have developed.
“The discovery of ancient finds by swimmers and divers is a phenomenon that has been growing in recent years with the growing popularity of these sports.
“Even the smallest storm moves the sand and deconstructs areas on the seabed, meanwhile burying others. Therefore, it is vital that such finds are reported, and we always try to document them on the spot in order to obtain as much archaeological data as possible.
“Archaeological finds at the site indicate that it served as a small, temporary natural anchorage for ships seeking shelter. The identification of various finds suggests that the anchor was used as early as the Late Bronze Age, 4,000 years ago.
“The recent discovery of the sword indicates that it was also used naturally about 900 years ago, during the Crusaders.”