While ancient history and biblical history are often the more concentrated on eras of Israel’s history, and understandably so! However there is another period of history that has very deep significance in Israeli history, church history and modern events: The Crusader Period.
Recently, new artifacts and ruins from the time have been discovered in Israel, bring new interest and fascination of the era.
What was the Crusader Period?
The Crusader period began in 1095 and went on to 1291. Israel was very famously ruled by the Romans during the 1st and 2nd centuries. From the 3rd-6th centuries it was ruled by the Byzantines. Then for the next 400 years, the Arabs ruled the land, setting up the Dome of the Rock on top of the Temple Mount.
In 1074, Pope Gregory the VII began a campaign to rally the fight to liberate Jerusalem from Arab rule and establish a Christian kingdom. Twenty years later, Pope Urban II made Gregory’s dream a reality and launched the first crusade. This lasted from 1096-1099 and then another crusade happened between 1147-1149, and the last between 1187-1192.
This time period certainly was controversial during the time and continues to be to this day, but it makes it no less a part of Israel’s history, and an important one.
Recent Discoveries from the Crusader Period
While there are many remnants of the crusader period around Israel, including in Jerusalem and Acre, recently there have been discoveries that are unique and rare.
A diver was recently exploring off the Carmel coast, south of Haifa. While diving, he found, as is not uncommon, examples of anchors, and pottery, most being a few hundred years old by estimation. The thing that grabbed his attention though at first just looked like a natural part of the sea floor, covered in shells and organisms. Upon further inspection, he discovered it was actually man made. It was a 900 year old crusader sword.
This type of discovery is very rare. Knights didn’t easily part with their swords, after all! The area in which it was found is also constantly shifting, so things get moved and recovered very easily. Couple that with normal corrosion in salty water, and it’s not a discovery you will likely hear about again any time soon! The diver took the sword and turned it into the Antiquities Authority, ensuring its safety.
The only thing he asked for in return was a picture holding it (shown above). This was a “big fish” story he wanted to be able to prove!
The sword perfectly preserved. They plan to clean it up and display it at the Israel Museum for all to enjoy. We can’t wait to see it completely restored!
Crusader Period Camp
There is no doubt that the Crusader period happened, as there is proof and record of it everywhere. Something that hasn’t ever been found before is a camp where the soldiers would have stayed in their initial assaults, before anything could be built or conquered.
Recently, archeologists working to clear land for a new road (every building project in Israel needs an archeologist to inspect and approve the ground being built upon), found evidence of a camp of hundreds. Coins and mementos were found that identified the location, and it showed the closer to the spring you were, the wealthier you were. Throughout the camp, the most discovered relics are horseshoe nails, which were littered throughout the camp. This made it very clearly a military camp, with the condition of the horses extremely important. The Crusade Period was the first time that nailed horseshoes were widely used, made from bronze and iron. They were so valuable, they were often bartered in lieu of money.
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