Shlomi Katzin was on one of his usual Saturday dives off the coast of Carmel beach, in northern Israel, when he stumbled across the discovery of a lifetime. Helped by meteorological conditions, as the waves and undercurrents shifted the sand beneath him, the diver was shocked to see metal anchors and an elongated object that turned out to be a 900-year-old longsword dating back to the Crusades.
The perfectly preserved Medieval weapon measures one meter in length and has a 30-centimeter hilt, according to experts from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). It is likely made of iron, said Nir Distelfeld, an inspector for the IAA’s Robbery Prevention Unit.
Recognizing that the sword is likely ancient and of great archaeological value, Katzin brought the artifact ashore and, fearing it may end up in the wrong hands, immediately contacted local authorities who handed over the item to the National Treasures Department.
Although the sword is covered in marine life and sediments, experts claim the sword is preserved very well and should look amazing once the restoration process is complete.
“We will ensure it is displayed to the public,” IAA general director Eli Escosido told Times of Israel.
The Crusades represented a series of religious wars between European Christians and Muslims in the Middle East, which disputed control over holy sites considered sacred by both parties. Eight major Crusade expeditions occurred between 1096 and 1291.
Several religious knightly military orders were birthed out of the Crusades, including the Knights Templar, the Teutonic Knights, and Hospitallers. The newly discovered longsword likely belonged to such a knight, as common footsoldiers could not afford such a high-quality weapon for its time.
Carmel beach, where the sword was found, is known as a natural anchorage that has been in use since as early as 4,000 years ago. It was likely also used by the Crusaders 900 years ago to land on the shores of the Holy Land. Archaeologists are now surveying the site, on the lookout for more artifacts that might tell us more about Crusaders and perhaps even the identity of the knight who lost his sword.