An Israeli diver found a sword that probably belonged to a crusader: NPR


Jacob Sharvit, director of the Marine Archeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, is holding a sword on Tuesday that experts say dates back to the Crusaders in Cesarea, Israel.

Ariel Schalit/AP


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Ariel Schalit/AP


Jacob Sharvit, director of the Marine Archeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, is holding a sword on Tuesday that experts say dates back to the Crusaders in Cesarea, Israel.

Ariel Schalit/AP

Talk about a deep dive through history.

An Israeli amateur diver came across a bunch of ancient artifacts near his local beach, including a large sword that experts say belonged to a Crusader knight some 900 years ago.

Shlomi Katzin was diving off the coast of Mount Carmel on Saturday when he discovered the treasure trove, which according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs includes metal and ancient stone anchors, pottery fragments and an “impressive sword with a one-meter-long and a hilt of 30 cm [nearly a foot] in length.”

Katzin took the sword ashore and reported it to the Israel Antiquities Authority, where experts could fill in the backstory.

“The sword, preserved in perfect condition, is a beautiful and rare find and clearly belonged to a crusader knight,” Nir Distelfeld, superintendent of the robbery prevention unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement. “It was found with a crust of marine organisms, but apparently made of iron. It’s exciting to come across such a personal object, which takes you 900 years back in time to another era, with knights, armor and swords.”

One of the many treasures unearthed off the Carmel Coast

The sword is just one of many recent – and ancient – discoveries in these particular waters.

The Carmel Coast contains natural bays, which provided shelter for ancient ships during storms, and larger bays that allowed for settlements and ancient port cities to form, explains Kobi Sharvit, the director of the Marine Archeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“These conditions have attracted merchant ships over the centuries and left behind rich archaeological finds,” he added.

Experts were able to determine that the anchors were used as early as the late Bronze Age – or 4,000 years ago. Authorities said the sword’s discovery suggests the natural bay was also used in the Crusader period (between 1095 and 1291).

So why are they only emerging now?

The State Department said Katzin’s finds were discovered by waves and shifting undercurrents. They called such finds “very elusive” because they depend on the movement of the sand.

Still, the antiquities experts said a growing number of swimmers and recreational divers have discovered ancient artifacts in recent years as those activities became more popular.

“Underwater research is dynamic,” Sharvit said. “Even the smallest storm moves the sand and reveals areas on the seabed, while others are buried. It is therefore vital to report such finds and we always try to document them on site, to extract as much archaeological data as possible. “

The Israel Antiquities Authority says the sword will be on display to the public after it has been cleaned and examined.

And while Katzin is handing over his findings, he won’t necessarily leave empty-handed. The ministry says it has received a “certificate of appreciation for good citizenship”.

This story originally appeared on the morning edition live blog.

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