Diver finds 900-year-old iron sword dating back to the Third Crusade

Jacob Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority holds a yard-long sword, one that experts say dates back to the Crusaders, that is on display in the Mediterranean seaport of Cesarea, Israel. Israel's Antiquities Authority said on Oct. 18, 2021, that a scuba diver was on a weekend dive in northern Israel over the weekend when he spotted a trove of ancient artifacts that included anchors, pottery and the sword.

A 900-year-old iron sword found off the coast of Israel on Oct. 16 by an amateur diver is believed to be a relic from the Crusades.

Shlomi Katzin found the sword on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea along with other artifacts, including stone anchors and pottery fragments. But the sword was the most “priceless” and “extremely rare” artifact according to Jacob Sharvit, who leads the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Marine Archaeology Unit.

The sword weighed 4 pounds, measured to be 4-feet-long and dates back to the Third Crusade which was launched when three European monarchs tried to retake Jerusalem after its fall to the Muslims.

During the Third Crusade, King Philip Augustus of France, King Richard I (also known as Richard the Lionheart of England), and Holy RomanEmperor Frederick I (also known as Frederick Barbarossa), set out to retake Jerusalem. Saladin, the ruler of an area covering modern Egypt, Syria and Iraq, had conquered it in 1187, John Cotts, a professor of medieval history at Whitman College, told the New York Times.

In this photo provided by Israel's Antiquities Authority, an ancient sword is seen after it was discovered by an Israeli diver off the country's Mediterranean coast near Haifa, Israel, Oct. 14, 2021. An Israeli scuba diver has salvaged an ancient sword off the country's Mediterranean coast that experts say dates back to the Crusaders. Fearing his discovery might be buried, the diver took the sword, estimated to be 900 years old, ashore and delivered it to government experts, the authority said.

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Katzin was awarded a certificate of appreciation for good citizenship and praised by the general director of the IAA, Eli Escosido. “Every ancient artifact that is found helps us piece together the historical puzzle of the Land of Israel,” he said. 

Since the sword was found underwater, it was able to be preserved. It has oxidized over time causing marine organisms to stick to it. Sharvit told the New York Times, “It’s the first time that we found a beautiful sword like this.”

After its discovery, the Israel Antiques Authority received the sword to be cleaned off and put on display at a museum. 

Follow Naomi Ludlow on Twitter: @itsnaomikay.

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