A sharp-eyed diver made the find of a lifetime when he spotted an antique sword lying on the seabed off the Middle East’s Mediterranean coast.
The 900-year-old blade, a metre long, probably belonged to a knight during the Crusader period, the Israel Antiquities Authority told the Jerusalem Post.
Scuba diver Shlomi Katzin, of the coastal town of Atlit in Israel, spotted the sword among remains including pottery fragments and stone and metal anchors at a site off the Carmel Coast.
It was brought to the surface “encrusted with marine organisms” but otherwise undamaged.
“The sword, which has been preserved in perfect condition, is a beautiful and rare find and evidently belonged to a Crusader knight,” said Nir Distelfeld, an inspector from the authority's robbery prevention unit.
“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, armour and swords.”
The location of the find suggests the area was used as a natural anchorage up to 4,000 years ago.
Thousands of merchant ships have sailed the waters through the ages, leaving behind “rich archaeological finds”, said Kobi Sharvit, director of the authority's marine archaeology unit.
“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,” he said.
Shifting waters make it tough to identify archaeological remains on the seabed, according to Mr Sharvit.
“Underwater surveying is dynamic,” he said. “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.”