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Scuba diver retrieves sunken sword from ancient war

The Sun, October 20, 2021 7:00PM Kids News

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Dr Kobi Sharvit of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) displays the ancient sword dating back to the Crusades on October 19, just days after the weapon was discovered by a local diver near the port city of Haifa. Picture: AFP media_cameraDr Kobi Sharvit of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) displays the ancient sword dating back to the Crusades on October 19, just days after the weapon was discovered by a local diver near the port city of Haifa. Picture: AFP

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A surprised scuba diver has found an ancient sword that experts say dates back to the Crusades*. The artefact*, which is believed to have been dropped on the journey to the Holy Land* some 900 years ago, was discovered by Shlomi Katzin near the port city of Haifa, Israel, at the weekend.

Mr Katzin was operating in an area frequently visited by divers – roughly 200 metres out at sea – when he spotted the rare find.

He said he noticed that several remains – including pottery fragments, stone and metal anchors, as well as the blade – were all visible.

Worried that the precious object might get covered by the sand, he decided to bring it up to the surface.

He quickly alerted the Israel Antiquities* Authority (IAA), who later confirmed the sword belonged to a Crusader knight.

media_cameraDr Sharvit of the Israel Antiquities Authority said there was no doubt that the sword was from the Crusades and his team hopes to discover more about its original owner. Picture: AFP

“The sword, which has been preserved* in perfect condition, is a beautiful and rare find and evidently* belonged to a Crusader knight,” said IAA’s robbery prevention unit inspector Nir Distelfeld

“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, armour and swords.”

The First Crusade began a lengthy series of religious wars and took place between 1096 and 1099.

Christian knights travelled across from Europe and eventually captured Jerusalem, where they began massacring* the city’s Muslim and Jewish population. The wars did not end until 1291.

Analysing the salvaged* treasure, archaeologists* said the sword had a metre-long blade and a 30-centimetre hilt*.

They added that the area of discovery had most likely provided shelter for ancient ships during the early stages of the Crusades and was home to many archaeological treasures – some dating back 4000 years.

However, such discoveries were elusive* because of the constantly shifting sands.

media_cameraThe work of carefully clearing away organisms and sediment encrusting the sword has just begun for members of the IAA’s marine archaeology unit, led by Dr Sharvit. Picture: AFP

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

“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,” Dr Sharvit said.

“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 is now to be cleaned and further analysed and is set to later be placed on display.

Meanwhile, the diver Mr Katzin was given a certificate of appreciation for good citizenship.

GLOSSARY

  • Crusades: lengthy series of religious wars between European Christians and the Muslims of the Middle Eastern region known as the Holy Land
  • artefact: man-made object of historical and cultural significance
  • Holy Land: contested area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, the scene of centuries of multi-faith religious narrative
  • antiquities: objects from the ancient past
  • preserved: kept, protected, maintained
  • evidently: apparently, presumably, likely
  • encrusted: covered, caked, overlaid
  • organisms: living thing capable of growing and reproducing, including fungus, plants, bacteria
  • encounter: come across, meet, experience, have contact with
  • massacring: inflict great violence, harm and death in large numbers
  • salvaged: saved, recovered, rescued
  • archaeologists: specialists in the scientific study of human history
  • hilt: handle of a weapon or tool
  • elusive: hard to find, difficult to grasp
  • sediment: matter that settles to the bottom

EXTRA READING

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Ancient Egyptian shipwreck found in Mediterranean Sea

Archaeologists find ancient chariot near Pompeii

QUICK QUIZ

  1. What is the name of the port city and country where the discovery was made?
  2. How far out at sea was the sword discovered?
  3. Archaeologists have dated the find to what series of ancient wars in the region?
  4. How old do experts believe the sword to be?
  5. What was the diver’s reward for turning over the artefact to the appropriate authorities?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. The story of the sword in the sea
Does this news story make your imagination wander back in time? Who could the sword have belonged to …? How did it and the other items end up at the bottom of the sea …? Write a short narrative with vivid details that gives your imagined version of what could have happened.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; History

2. Extension
Use paper or card to create a “life-size” picture of the sword, based on the measurements in the news story. Draw in details to show what the sword might actually look like under all of those marine organisms.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Mathematics; History; Visual Arts

VCOP ACTIVITY
Wow Word Recycle
There are plenty of wow words (ambitious pieces of vocabulary) being used in the article. Some are in the glossary, but there might be extra ones from the article that you think are exceptional as well.

Identify all the words in the article that you think are not common words, and particularly good choices for the writer to have chosen.

Select three words you have highlighted to recycle into your own sentences.

If any of the words you identified are not in the glossary, write up your own glossary for them.

Extra Reading in history