The Crusader sword
The Crusader swordצילום: אנסטסיה שפירו - רשות העתיקות

Atlit resident Shlomi Katzin was scuba diving last Saturday off the Carmel coast, when he was amazed to discover ancient artifacts on the sea bed, apparently uncovered by waves and undercurrents that had shifted the sand. He saw ancient stone anchors, anchors made of metal, pottery fragments, and an impressive sword with a one meter long blade and a hilt measuring 30 cm in length.

Fearing that the find would be stolen or buried beneath subsequent shifting of the sands, Katzin took the sword ashore. Demonstrating outstanding citizenship, he contacted the inspector for the Israel Antiquities Authority Northern District’s Robbery Prevention Unit and reported the find to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The sword was handed over to the National Treasures Department and Katzin received a certificate of appreciation for good citizenship.

According to Nir Distelfeld, Inspector for the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit, “The sword, which has been preserved in perfect condition, is a beautiful and rare find and evidently belonged to a Crusader knight. It was found encrusted with marine organisms, but is apparently made of iron. 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.”

“The Carmel coast contains many natural coves that provided shelter for ancient ships in a storm, and larger coves around which entire settlements and ancient port cities developed, such as Dor and Atlit,” explains Kobi Sharvit, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Marine Archaeology Unit.

“These conditions have attracted merchant ships down the ages, leaving behind rich archaeological finds. The recently recovered sword is just one such find.”

The site where the anchors and the sword were found has been monitored by the Israel Antiquities Authority since June, when it was first discovered by Boaz Langford and Rafael Bahalul. The site’s finds are very elusive, since they appear and disappear with the movement of the sands.

“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 Sharvit.

“Underwater surveying is dynamic. Even the smallest storm moves the sand and reveals areas on the sea bed, meanwhile burying others. It is therefore vitally important to report any such finds and we always try to document them in situ, in order to retrieve as much archaeological data as possible. The archaeological finds at the site show that it served as a small, temporary natural anchorage for ships seeking shelter. Identification of the various finds shows that the anchorage was used in as early as the Late Bronze Age, 4,000 years ago. The recent discovery of the sword suggests that the natural cove was also used in the Crusader period, some 900 years ago.”

Israel Antiquities Authority’s general director, Eli Escosido, praised Shlomi for coming forward with the discovery. “Every ancient artifact that is found helps us piece together the historical puzzle of the Land of Israel. Once the sword has been cleaned and researched in the Israel Antiquities Authority’s laboratories, we will ensure it is displayed to the public.”