Shlomi Katzin was scuba diving in a cove off the coast of Haifa, Israel, when a curious object in the seabed caught his eye. Katzin pulled the shell-encrusted relic from the sand and held it before his GoPro camera. He couldn’t know it at the time, but he was holding an ancient sword from the time of the Crusades.
Katzin reported his find to the Israel Antiquities Authority, which examined the object and believes it to be around 900 years old.
“The iron sword has been preserved in perfect condition and is a beautiful and rare find,” Nir Distelfeld, inspector for the IAA’s Robbery Prevention Unit, said in a Facebook post on Monday. “It evidently belonged to a Crusader knight.”
The sword measures four feet long and weighs in at over four pounds — of course, that’s with all the marine organisms that have come to call the blade and hilt home for the past nine centuries. It may have been unearthed during a recent storm that shifted the sand that hid it for centuries.
Katzin also discovered ancient stone, metal anchors and pottery fragments off the coast. The New York Times reports Katzin declined an interview request because he “did not want the discovery to be about him.”
The director of the IAA’s marine archaeology unit, Kobi Sharvit, noted the relics show this region likely “served as a small, temporary natural anchorage for ships seeking shelter” and demonstrates that the cove was used during the Crusades.
The Crusades were a series of religious wars initiated and supported by the Roman Catholic church. Some of the best-known wars were fought between the 11th and 13th centuries, when crusaders invaded the Holy Land, a region that corresponds to modern-day Palestine and Israel.
The sword will be put on display for the public once it has been cleaned, restored and researched by the IAA.