An Israeli scuba diver has salvaged an ancient sword off the country’s Mediterranean coast that experts say dates back to the Crusades.
Israel’s Antiquities Authority says the man was on a weekend dive in northern Israel when he spotted a trove of ancient artifacts that included anchors, pottery and the meter-long sword.
The diver was about 170 yards off the coast in five-meter-deep water when he made the discovery.
“The most interesting thing is that this is one of the first… the complete sword that ever found in Israel and in a very good preservation,” says Kobi Sharvit, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Marine Archaeology Unit.
“We know that usually under the water, the materials, the archeological materials, survive better than on land. First of all, they are in anaerobic environment and they are under the sand, far away from the eyes of swimmers, divers, and even ancient freediving people.”
Experts say the area provided shelter for ancient ships and is home to many archaeological treasures, some dating back 4,000 years. But such discoveries can be elusive because of the constantly shifting sands.
Fearing his discovery might be buried, the diver took the sword ashore and delivered it to government experts, says the IAA. The weapon is estimated to be 900 years old.
“Following the weight of the sword, we assume that the knight that holded this sword was very strong because to fight with this weight and this size of sword, it wasn’t so easy,” says Sharvit.
“Even today, to hold it, it’s heavy. And this is typical sword of Crusader knights.”
The sword is to be cleaned and further analyzed, while the diver, identified as Shlomi Katzin, was given a certificate of appreciation for good citizenship.