Diver Unearths 900-Year-Old Medieval Sword Believed to Have Belonged to Crusader

An amateur diver found a 900-year-old sword believed to have belonged to a Crusader off the coast of Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Monday.

Shlomi Katzin, a diver from Atlit, Israel, was scuba diving off the Carmel Coast on Saturday when he spotted several artifacts on the seafloor that were uncovered by currents and ocean waves. The artifacts included pottery fragments, anchors made of stone and metal, and the sword with a meter-long blade.

Katzin brought the artifacts up to the surface worried that they would be covered up by sand again and contacted the IAA's Northern District Robbery Prevention Unit inspector Nir Distelfeld.

"The iron sword has been preserved in perfect condition and is a beautiful and rare find," Distelfeld said in a statement Monday. "It evidently belonged to a Crusader knight. 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."

According to the director at the IAA's Marine Archaeology Unit Kobi Sharvit, the site that Katzin discovered belonged to a natural anchorage for ships to seek shelter. Sharvit said that identification of the site showed that it was used as early as 4,000 years ago, during the Late Bronze Age.

"The recent discovery of the sword suggests that the natural cove was also used in the Crusader period, some 900 years ago," Sharvit said.

The Crusades were a series of religious wars between the 11th and 13th centuries between Christians and Muslims to gain control of the Holy Land.

Diver Finds Crusader Sword in Sea
According to the Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority's Marine Archaeology Unit Kobi Sharvit, the site off the Carmel Coast used to serve as a refuge for ships during storms. The sword, which features a meter-long blade, is one of several antique artifacts found near or at the site. Fabio Belotte/Getty Images

The site located off of the Carmel Coast has been monitored by the IAA since June when it was first discovered. According to Sharvit, the site could be home to many unearthed treasures since ships used to seek refuge from storms in the area. Sharvit said storms can move the sand revealing new artifacts, and burying others.

This week, Katzin received a certificate of appreciation for "good citizenship" according to the IAA. The IAA's General Director Eli Escosido also praised Katzin for his discovery.

"Every ancient artifact that is found helps us piece together the historical puzzle of the Land of Israel," Escosido said. "Once the sword has been cleaned and researched in the Israel Antiquities Authority's laboratories, we will ensure it is displayed to the public."

Earlier this month, Newsweek reported on a rare toilet found in a Jerusalem palace that dated back over 2,700 years. According to the IAA, the limestone toilet sat above a septic tank that was carved into bedrock.

The ancient artifact was designed for "comfortable sitting" and featured a hole in the middle of the limestone.

According to the Director of Excavation with the IAA, Yaakov Billig, only the very wealthiest people had access to private toilets during that time.

"Only the rich could afford toilets," Billig said. "In fact, a thousand years later, the Mishnah and the Talmud discuss the various criteria that define a rich person, and Rabbi Yossi's option to be rich is by having a toilet near his table."