ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES / ISRAEL: A SWORD BELONGING TO A CRUSADER KNIGHT FOUND IN THE DEPTHS OF THE SEA

A few weeks ago, Shlomi Katzin, a resident of Atlit, Israel, was scuba diving off the coast of Mount Carmel when he was amazed to discover ancient artifacts on the seabed, apparently uncovered by the waves and undercurrents that had displaced the sand. Suddenly he saw ancient stone anchors, metal anchors, ceramic fragments and an impressive sword with a one meter long blade and a 30 cm long hilt.

Fearing that the find would be stolen or buried under the subsequent shifting of the sands, Mr. Katzin brought the sword to the ground and reported the find to the Israeli Antiquities Authority.
The sword was handed over to the National Treasury Department and Katzin received a major award for his action that qualified him as a model citizen. Once the sword has been cleaned and researched in the laboratories of the Israeli Antiquities Authority, we will make sure it is shown to the public.

According to Nir Distelfeld, inspector of the Israeli 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 is apparently 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 contains many natural coves that have provided shelter for ancient ships in the event of a storm and larger inlets around which entire settlements and ancient port cities have developed, such as Dor and Atlit,” explains Kobi Sharvit, director Marine Archeology of the Israeli Antiquities Authority. “These conditions have attracted merchant ships over the centuries, leaving behind rich archaeological finds. The recently recovered sword is just one of these finds. ” concluded Dr. Sharvit.

The site where the anchors and the sword were found has been monitored by the Israeli Antiquities Authority since June, when it was first discovered. The finds at the site are very elusive, as they appear and disappear with the movement of the sands.

“The discovery of ancient artifacts by recreational swimmers and divers is a growing phenomenon in recent years, with the growing popularity of such sports,” said Sharvit. “Underwater detection is dynamic. Even the smallest storm displaces sand and reveals areas on the sea floor, burying others. It is therefore of vital importance to report these findings and we always try to document them in situ, in order to recover as much archaeological data as possible.

Archaeological finds at the site show that it served as a small temporary natural anchorage for ships seeking shelter. The identification of the various finds shows that the anchor was already used in 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, some 900 years ago.

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