An amateur scuba diver has found a 900-year-old Crusader sword off Israel's coast, the country's Antiquities Authority has announced.

Shlomi Katzin made the discovery while scuba diving about 200 metres out to sea at the weekend.

He noticed several remains including pottery fragments, stone and metal anchors, as well as the blade.

He decided to bring it up to the surface as he was worried the precious object might get covered by the sand.

Mr Katzin then alerted the Israel Antiquities Authority (IIA), which confirmed the sword belonged to a Crusader knight.

IAA’s Robbery Prevention Unit Inspector Nir Distelfeld said: "The sword, which has been preserved in perfect condition, is a beautiful and rare find and evidently belonged to a Crusader knight.

The sword was buried in the sand and was found at the weekend (

Image:

Israel Antiquities Authority)

"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 sword was buried at a shallow depth of about four or five metres in an area regularly frequented by divers, Mr Katzin said.

It has a metre-long blade and a 30-centimeter hilt, archaeologists have explained.

Yaakov Sharvit of the IAA holds the sword (

Image:

REUTERS)

Kobi Sharvit, head of the authority’s marine archaeology unit, said: "The shape and, of course, the location leave no doubt that it is of Crusader provenance.

"We have only started now to carefully work on clearing away the sediment and then we’ll x-ray it and hopefully we’ll be able to work out whether it was manufactured locally or brought over by one of the Crusaders.

"We may even find on the hilt or blade some markings that will allow us to discover some clues as to the owner and which Crusader order he belonged to and which crusade he was on."

The sword was recovered from the Mediterranean seabed by an amateur diver (

Image:

REUTERS)

After handing over the sword, the scuba diver received a certificate of appreciation for good citizenship, according to reports.

The First Crusade was the first of a series of religious wars and took place from 1096 to 1099.

Christian knights from Europe captured Jerusalem where they began massacring the city's Muslim and Jewish population.

They also established mini-kingdoms in the area, with some ruins still visible in Israel today.

There is a possibility that the sword found by Mr Katzin on Saturday had fallen from a ship or was on a ship that was wrecked there.

Mr Sharvit said it is rare to find artifacts like the sword, but probably thanks to a recent storm the sand moved and now several objects from different periods are emerging.

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