Israeli diver finds 900-year-old sword in Mediterranean Sea

JERUSALEM — An Israeli diver discovered a sword off the country’s Mediterranean coast that dates to the Crusades.

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Shlomi Katzin found a 4-pound, nearly 4-foot long sword off the Carmel coast of Israel on Oct. 9, and archaeologists determined that it was 900 years old and originated from the Third Crusade, The New York Times reported.

“Oh yes, (Katzin) was surprised and happy,” Jacob Sharvit, the director of the marine archaeology unit at the Israel Antiquities Authority, told the newspaper.

According to the organization. Katzin was on a weekend dive in northern Israel when he spotted ancient artifacts that included anchors, pottery and the sword, according to The Associated Press.

“It was found encrusted with marine organisms, but is apparently made of iron,” Nir Distelfeld, an inspector in the Israel Antiquities Authority’s robbery prevention unit, told the AP. “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.”

Katzin was more than happy to donate the sword to the Israel Antiquities Authority, but he had one request: He wanted a photograph of him holding the shell-encrusted weapon, the Times reported.

The sword was found 656 feet from the shore at a depth of 13 feet, Sharvit told CNN. The size and shape of the weapon suggest it belonged to a crusader, and Sharvit said it was found several miles from Atlit Castle, a crusader fortress, the network reported.

The sword’s blade, believed to be made of iron, measures around 40 inches and the hilt was 14 inches across, NBC News reported.

The items Katzin found were in the same 1,000-square-foot site, the Times reported. Officials with the Israel Antiquities Authority said it had been aware of the location since June after a storm shifted the sand, the newspaper reported.

“It’s normal to find swords in bad condition, but this one was found under the water -- and under the water, it was preserved in very good condition,” Sharvit told the Times. “It’s the first time that we found a beautiful sword like this.”

During the Second Crusade, Muslim armies defeated Western crusaders at Damascus, Jonathan Phillips, a professor of the history of the Crusades at Royal Holloway, University of London, told the newspaper.

In the Third Crusade, King Richard I of England (also known as Richard the Lionheart), King Philip Augustus of France and the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I, returned to the Middle East in an attempt to retake Jerusalem.

Phillips said it made sense that the sword was found in the water, since many battles were fought on the beaches, the Times reported.

“It could have been from a knight who fell in the sea or lost it in a fight at sea,” Phillips told the newspaper.


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