JERUSALEM — Israeli archaeologists say a scuba diver has salvaged an ancient sword off the country's Mediterranean coast that experts say dates back to the Crusades.
Israel's Antiquities Authority (IAA) said Monday the man was on a weekend dive in northern Israel last Saturday when he spotted a trove of ancient artifacts that included anchors, pottery and a four-foot-long sword.
The diver, identified by Smithsonian Magazine as Shlomi Katzin, feared the sword would be covered up by shifting sands. So Katzin took it ashore and handed it over to government experts.
"The sword, which has been preserved in perfect condition, is a beautiful and rare find and evidently belonged to a Crusader knight," IAA inspector Nir Distelfeld in a statement on Monday. "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, armor and swords."
The Crusades were a series of wars that took place between the 11th and 14th centuries. During those campaigns, European Christians traveled to Israel in the hopes of taking back control of the Holy Lands from the Muslims that ruled the area.
Archaeologists believe that many ancient treasures are submerged in the area. According to the BBC, Kobi Sharvit of the IAA says that Israel's Carmel coast has provided shelter for ships during storms throughout the centuries.
"These conditions have attracted merchant ships down the ages, leaving behind rich archaeological finds," he told the BBC.
The diver was given a certificate of appreciation for turning over the 900-year-old item.