An Israeli Diver Discovered a Crusader Sword at the Bottom of the Sea

October 20, 2021 | Eduardo Medina and Jacob Sharvit
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Not long after Israeli archaeologists announced the unprecedented discovery of a Crusader encampment south of Tel Aviv, a diver named Shlomi Katzin came across a shell-encrusted crusader sword on the floor of the Mediterranean, along with centuries-old anchors and pottery fragments. The sword dates to the time of the Third Crusade, which lasted from 1188 to 1192. Eduardo Medina reports:

The water off the Carmel coast remains the same temperature year-round, which helped preserve the iron in the sword. Because the iron was oxidized, shells and other marine organisms stuck onto it like glue. . . . The sword would have been expensive to make at the time and viewed as a status symbol.

In England, the launching of the Third Crusade, which coincided with the coronation of Richard I (“the Lionheart”), was accompanied by some of the country’s worst massacres of Jews, most notably in the city of York. By contrast, unlike previous crusades, it did not spark anti-Semitic violence in Germany, thanks to the intervention of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Frederick did, however, levy a special tax on Jews to help fund his Middle Eastern venture, in exchange for his protection.

In a short video, Jacob Sharvit of the Israel Antiquities Authority displays the sword and explains its significance:

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