Atlit resident Shlomi Katzin discovered ancient artifacts on the sea bed when he was scuba diving off the Carmel coast last Saturday. He saw an ancient stone and metal anchors, pottery fragments, and a majestic sword with a 3-foot long blade and a foot long hilt. The treasures had apparently been uncovered by the waves and undercurrents that shifted the sand at the bottom of the sea.
Fearing that the find would be stolen or be buried again under the shifting sands, Katzin took the sword ashore and contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority Northern District’s Robbery Prevention Unit to report his discovery. He handed over the sword to the National Treasures Department and received a certificate of appreciation for his good citizenship.
According to Nir Distelfeld, Inspector for the IAA’s Robbery Prevention Unit, “the sword, which has been preserved in perfect condition, is a beautiful and rare find and evidently belonged to a Crusader knight. It was found encrusted with marine organisms, but it’s 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 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,” explained Kobi Sharvit, Director of the IAA’s Marine Archaeology Unit. “These conditions have attracted merchant ships down the ages, leaving behind rich archaeological finds. The recently recovered sword is just one such find.”
The site where the anchors and the sword were found has been monitored by the IAA since June when it was first discovered by Boaz Langford and Rafael Bahalul. The site’s treasures are elusive since they appear and disappear with the movement of the sands.
“The discovery of ancient finds by swimmers and leisure divers is a growing phenomenon in recent years, with the increasing popularity of these sports,” Sharvit said and added: “Underwater surveying is dynamic. 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.”
“The archaeological finds at the site show that it served as a small, temporary natural anchorage for ships seeking shelter. Identification of the various finds shows that the anchorage was used as early as the Late Bronze Age, 4,000 years ago. The recent discovery of the sword suggests that the natural cove was also used in the Crusader period, some 900 years ago,” he said.
IAA’s General Director Eli Escosido praised Shlomi Katzin for coming forward with his discovery. “Every ancient artifact that’s found helps us piece together the historical puzzle of the Land of Israel,” he noted. “Once the sword has been cleaned and researched in the Israel Antiquities Authority’s laboratories, we will ensure that it is displayed to the public.”