The Sword in the Sea Bottom

Israeli snorkeler out for a morning dive returns home with a Crusader knight sword

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: archaeology
In the shallow water lay anchors made of stone and iron, pottery shards and fragments, and an impressive sword. Photo: YouTube screenshot

You truly never know what you’ll stumble across as you go about your daily routine here in Israel, a land that has seen more history that most other parts of the world.

On Shabbat, Shlomi Katzin, a resident of the Haifa-area town of Atlit, went out for his routine snorkeling in the Mediterranean waters off Carmel Beach. But as he began to dive, Katzin noticed something very different. The tides and currents had shifted the sands, revealing a small treasure trove of ancient artifacts.

Lying there in the shallow waters were anchors made of stone and iron, pottery pieces and fragments, and an impressive sword.

Concerned that the find would soon be again covered by shifting sands, Katzin grabbed the sword and brought it to officials from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

IAA inspector Nir Distelfeld told Channel 12 News that “the sword, which has been preserved in perfect condition, is a beautiful and rare find and appears to have belonged to a Crusader knight.”

Kobi Sharvit, director of the IAA’s Marine Archaeology Unit, further explained: “There are many natural bays on the Carmel coast, which could be used as hiding places for ancient ships during a storm, and even larger bays, around which entire settlements developed. These conditions attracted merchant ships, which left behind many archaeological traces. The sword is just one of them.”

The IAA officials confirmed that most marine discovers are the result of shifting sands, and as such must be removed quickly from the water before they are again lost. This has been happening more often of late as coastal snorkeling and SCUBA diving becomes more popular among Israelis. Some try to keep what they find, which is a serious crime in Israel. Those like Shlomi Katzin who do the right thing are publicly recognized for their good citizenship.

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