The Israeli Antiquities Authority said Tuesday that a diver swimming in the Mediterranean Sea has recovered a large sword that experts believe to be about 900 years old, dating back to the Crusades.

The antiquities authority’s Director of Marine Archaeology, Kobi Sharvit, said the amateur diver was swimming about 150 meters offshore near the Israeli port of Haifa a few days ago when he spotted the sword lying on the ocean floor, four to five meters below the surface.

Sharvit said the diver recovered the sword and immediately took it to the antiquities authority. Sharvit said the sword — encrusted with marine organisms when discovered –is the most complete and well preserved he has seen in 31 years. He described the sword as large, heavy and made of iron.  

He added that the one-meter-long blade, hilt and handle were distinctive and highly noticeable after undercurrents apparently shifted sands that had concealed it.

Sharvit said because the sword was found in a cove, not far from the Crusader castle of Atlit on the northern coast of Israel, it is being assumed the sword belonged to a solder in the Crusades.

The Crusades were a series of medieval European Christian-led military expeditions to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries. 

Sharvit said that from an historical perspective, the handle of the sword may be the most important part of the weapon as that is where decorations, and perhaps, even names or initials are often found that will help identify the sword.

He said once it cleaned, examined, and restored, the antiquities authority will put the sword on display.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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