Diver Discovers 900-Year-Old Sword

Knights in shining armor seem much closer to the present day after a lucky diver found a 900-year-old Crusader sword while exploring the bottom of the Mediterranean sea off Israeli’s coast.

Shlomi Katzin came across the huge sword and several other ancient artifacts while diving in October off of Carmel Beach in Atlit, a town in Northern Israel just south of the city of Haifa. The area is known to have been a busy port city over the centuries and one where Crusaders would have landed to fight Muslims during the Crusades.

June storms had shifted the sand in that area and led to a number of ancient finds on the seafloor since then.

Katzin said he didn’t leave the sword in place on the seabed because he was worried shifting sand would cover it again or it would be stolen. But he did as the law required and reported his find and its location to the authorities. He received a certificate of good citizenship for his action. Another man, Atlit researcher Udi Galili, and Israel Antiques Authority (IAA) maritime unit director, had apparently also reported the find.

“The discovery of ancient finds by swimmers and leisure divers is a growing phenomenon in recent years, with the increasing popularity of such sports,” said Jacob Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the IAA, in a statement. “Underwater surveying is dynamic. Even the smallest storm moves the sand and reveals areas on the sea bed, meanwhile burying others.”

Here, you can see the size of the sword. It’s being held by Sharvit.

AP Images | Ariel Schalit

The sword is a little over 3 feet long, with a hilt that’s almost one foot long. The IAA believes it is made out of iron with a wood handle. Sharvit told CNN that it was buried in deep sand without oxygen, which kept the iron from deteriorating. Shells and organic marine matter have gotten stuck to it over the years.

“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,” said Nir Distelfeld, Inspector for the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit.

He described it as “preserved in perfect condition” and a “beautiful and rare find.”

The IAA plans to publicly display the sword after it has been cleaned and studied.