Ancient sword discovered by a scuba diver may have been dropped in the sea by a Crusader knight

An ancient sword discovered by a scuba diver off the coast of Israel may have been dropped in the sea by a Crusader knight 900 years ago, researchers claim.

The 3ft long weapon was found on the Mediterranean seabed in a natural cove near the port city of Haifa, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). 

Despite being encrusted with marine organisms, the hilt and handle were distinctive enough for an ‘eagle-eyed’ amateur diver to notice, after undercurrents apparently shifted sands that had concealed it for almost a millennia.

The natural cover in which the sword was discovered likely served as a shelter for seafarers passing through, said Kobi Sharvit, from the IAA marine archaeology unit. 

‘These conditions have attracted merchant ships down the ages, leaving behind rich archaeological finds,’ he said.

The sword, believed to be around 900 years old, will be put on display after it has been cleaned and restored to its former glory.

It was found among a range of other objects, including pottery fragments and a number of stone and metal anchors by diver Shlomi Katzin, who brought the blade to the surface and reported the find to the IAA, fearing it would be recovered if left

It was found among a range of other objects, including pottery fragments and a number of stone and metal anchors by diver Shlomi Katzin, who brought the blade to the surface and reported the find to the IAA, fearing it would be recovered if left

It was found among a range of other objects, including pottery fragments and a number of stone and metal anchors by diver Shlomi Katzin, who brought the blade to the surface and reported the find to the IAA, fearing it would be recovered if left

A diver found a 900-year-old sword dating back to the Crusader period off the Carmel beach in the north of the country, along with various other artifacts, the Israel Antiques Authority said

A diver found a 900-year-old sword dating back to the Crusader period off the Carmel beach in the north of the country, along with various other artifacts, the Israel Antiques Authority said

A diver found a 900-year-old sword dating back to the Crusader period off the Carmel beach in the north of the country, along with various other artifacts, the Israel Antiques Authority said

Researchers didn't offer visual representation of what this sword may have looked like, but other weapons from crusaders had a similar hilt and circular end. (Stock image)

Researchers didn't offer visual representation of what this sword may have looked like, but other weapons from crusaders had a similar hilt and circular end. (Stock image)

King Henry II isn't widely remembered as a Crusader, but he sent soldier to the holy land in the 12th century. Painting by Ahmad, 20th century

King Henry II isn't widely remembered as a Crusader, but he sent soldier to the holy land in the 12th century. Painting by Ahmad, 20th century

Researchers didn’t offer visual representation of what this sword may have looked like, but other weapons from crusaders, including those sent by Henry II, as depicted in the 20th century painting by Ahmad (right), had a similar hilt and circular end. (Stock image)

Nir Distelfeld, inspector for the Israel Antiquities Authority, with the Crusader sword

Nir Distelfeld, inspector for the Israel Antiquities Authority, with the Crusader sword

Nir Distelfeld, inspector for the Israel Antiquities Authority, with the Crusader sword

The 3ft long weapon was found on the Mediterranean seabed in a natural cove near the port city of Haifa, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA)

The 3ft long weapon was found on the Mediterranean seabed in a natural cove near the port city of Haifa, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA)

The 3ft long weapon was found on the Mediterranean seabed in a natural cove near the port city of Haifa, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) 

The sword was spotted about 650ft offshore near the city of Haifa and about 13ft deep and is in ‘remarkably good condition’, despite being over 900 years old.

Even though only its general shape can be seen, Sharvit is confident it dates back to the time of the Crusades. 

The Crusades were a series of religious wars fought between 1095 and 1291, in which Christian invaders tried to claim the near East. 

It was found among a range of other objects, including pottery fragments and a number of stone and metal anchors by diver Shlomi Katzin, who brought the blade to the surface and reported the find to the IAA, fearing it would be recovered if left.

‘The sword, which has been preserved in perfect condition, is a beautiful and rare find and evidently belonged to a Crusader knight,’ IAA’s Robbery Prevention Unit Inspector Nir Distelfeld told Jerusalem Post.

‘It was found encrusted with marine organisms but is apparently made of iron. 

‘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.’ 

Waters surround the Carmel Coast, near where the sword was discovered, were sailed by thousands of boats between the 11th and 13th centuries

Waters surround the Carmel Coast, near where the sword was discovered, were sailed by thousands of boats between the 11th and 13th centuries

Waters surround the Carmel Coast, near where the sword was discovered, were sailed by thousands of boats between the 11th and 13th centuries

The sword was found about 650ft offshore near the city of Haifa and about 13ft deep, and is in 'remarkably good condition', despite being over 900 years old

The sword was found about 650ft offshore near the city of Haifa and about 13ft deep, and is in 'remarkably good condition', despite being over 900 years old

The sword was found about 650ft offshore near the city of Haifa and about 13ft deep, and is in ‘remarkably good condition’, despite being over 900 years old

Even though only its general shape can be seen, and it is covered in marine life, the IAA team are confident it dates back to the time of the Crusades

Even though only its general shape can be seen, and it is covered in marine life, the IAA team are confident it dates back to the time of the Crusades

Even though only its general shape can be seen, and it is covered in marine life, the IAA team are confident it dates back to the time of the Crusades 

The knight crusaders were spurred on by the desire to liberate holy sites from Muslim rule, encouraged by the Catholic Church and initiated by European nations.

Waters surrounding the Carmel Coast, near where the sword was discovered, were sailed by thousands of boats between the 11th and 13th centuries. 

There are many natural coves in the area that sheltered sailors, including crusading knights sailing in ships to the holy land, during a heavy storm.

‘Larger coves around which entire settlements and ancient port cities developed, such as Dor and Atlit,’ were also in the area, said Sharvit.

Even though only its general shape can be seen, and it is covered in marine life, Sharvit is confident it dates back to the time of the Crusades

Even though only its general shape can be seen, and it is covered in marine life, Sharvit is confident it dates back to the time of the Crusades

Even though only its general shape can be seen, and it is covered in marine life, Sharvit is confident it dates back to the time of the Crusades

The sword, believed to be around 900 years old, will be put on display after it has been cleaned and restored to its former glory, according to experts

The sword, believed to be around 900 years old, will be put on display after it has been cleaned and restored to its former glory, according to experts

The sword, believed to be around 900 years old, will be put on display after it has been cleaned and restored to its former glory, according to experts

‘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 where the sword was found was already known to the IAA because it was used as a natural anchor point going back as far as 4,000 years ago — to the late Bronze Age. 

‘Underwater surveying is dynamic,’ said Sharvit. ‘Even the smallest storm moves the sand and reveals areas on the seabed, 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.’ 

WHAT WERE THE CRUSADES?  

The Crusades were a series of religious wars fought between 1095 and 1291, in which Christian invaders tried to claim the near East. 

It’s known that nobility led the Crusades, but historical records lack details of the ordinary soldiers who travelled to, lived and died in the near East. 

Pope Urban II started the First Crusade (1096–1102) in order to aid the Christian Byzantine Empire, which was under attack by Muslim Seljuk Turks.  

Europeans captured Jerusalem in 1099 as a result and Muslims quickly unified against the Christian invasion. 

Muslims firmly controlled Jerusalem by 1291 and it remained in Islamic hands until the twentieth century.

The Crusades set the stage for several religious knightly military orders, including the Knights Templar, the Teutonic Knights, and the Hospitallers.

These groups defended the Holy Land and protected pilgrims travelling to and from the region. 

The Crusades were a series of religious wars fought between 1095 and 1291, in which Christian invaders tried to claim the near East. It's known that nobility led the Crusades, but historical records lack details of the ordinary soldiers (file photo)

The Crusades were a series of religious wars fought between 1095 and 1291, in which Christian invaders tried to claim the near East. It's known that nobility led the Crusades, but historical records lack details of the ordinary soldiers (file photo)

The Crusades were a series of religious wars fought between 1095 and 1291, in which Christian invaders tried to claim the near East. It’s known that nobility led the Crusades, but historical records lack details of the ordinary soldiers (file photo)

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