The Sword That Lay Underwater 800 Years Now Has A Story

The iron Crusader sword was discovered by divers encrusted by marine organisms and examined by X-ray to understand the history

      A picture taken on October 19, 2021, shows an ancient one-meter-long sword that experts say dates back to the Crusader-era and is believed to have belonged to a Crusader, displayed at the beach in the Israeli seaport of Caesarea, some days after being discovered by a local diver. JACK GUEZ/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES.

Nearly two years ago, divers Raffi Bahalul, Shlomi Katzin and Ehud Galili found an iron Crusader-era sword in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel.

It was encrusted with marine organisms, which protected the metal and left it in amazing condition for an artifact about 800 years old.

Now, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Soreq Nuclear Research Center have published results of tests on the ancient sword.

X-ray imaging, which allowed the ancient sword to be studied without removing the sand and shell coating, suggests that the medieval weapon probably fell into the water during a naval battle

“The sword was used by a Crusader warrior who settled in the country after the First Crusade and established the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1099,” said Jacob Sharvit from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“Considering the bloody battles that took place in the country between the Crusaders and the Muslims, known from several historical sources, we could expect to find more such swords. In practice, we mostly find fragments, very few whole swords. So far, seven swords from this period have been found in the country, most of them discovered in the sea. Swords were not usually discarded, but over the years, once they were no longer in use, the metal was recycled for other uses.”

“Only the nobility and professional soldiers fought with swords” because they were expensive to make and required training and practice to use,” said IAA researcher Joppe Gosker.

This is what a battle looked like in the medieval battle simulation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem Club.The Crusader Frankish period in Israel began in 1099, with the conquest of Jerusalem from the Fatimid Caliphate, who had ruled the country until that time.  EMIL ELJAM, ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY.

“Being expensive, swords are usually found within a scabbard. In this case, only the sword was found. From this, we can infer that it fell into the sea during a battle, possibly with its owner. We didn’t find any additional remains in our scans of the place, but who knows? The warrior may still lie undiscovered in the depths, to be revealed one day by the shifting sands.”

The Crusader Frankish period in Israel began in 1099, with the conquest of Jerusalem from the Fatimid Caliphate, who had ruled the country until that time. In Israel, the Crusader period lasted less than 200 years, and started with armed pilgrimages intended to further the territorial interests of Christianity. The knights, princes, nobles, and ordinary people who participated were later called Crusaders.

After the conquest of Jerusalem, efforts were turned to conquering the coastal cities. During this period, a strong connection developed with Pisa, Venice, and other Italian republics, who sent their fleets to the Holy Land to lay a naval siege on the Muslim coastal cities. The sword could have been on one of the ships that laid siege on the coastal cities, or perhaps it belonged to a knight who was on a ship returning home to Europe.

Produced in association with ISRAEL21c