Long-Lost Wreck Of Crusader Ship And Gold Coins Discovered

AncientPages.com - The long-lost wreck of a crusader ship and sunken cargos dating to the 13th century CE have been found in the bay of the crusader stronghold city Acre, in northern Israel, reports Haaretz.

Marine archaeologists, led by Dr. Ehud Galili and Prof. Michal Artzy from Haifa University, also found gold coins dated to the destruction of the crusader bastion in 1291 CE, when the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt stormed it in a struggle to wrest the Holy Land from the crusaders.

The old city of Acre, a ancient city dating back thousands of years. Image via visionsoftravel.org

The old city of Acre, a ancient city dating back thousands of years. Image via visionsoftravel.org

Researchers identified sections of the wooden hull, the keel and some wooden planks covered with ballast, which according to carbon-14 testing of the hull dates the wreck to 1062-1250 CE, the Crusader era.

Among other underwater artifacts are ceramic jugs and bowls imported from Cyprus, Syria and southern Italy, and metal objects, mostly made of iron, such as anchors, nails and corroded and encrusted iron were also found. But the most important part of all recovered artifacts, is a collection of 30 gold coins, that may have fallen into the sea during desperate flight from the besieged city.

The coins were identified by coin expert Robert Kool of the Israel Antiquities Authority as Florentine “florins,” minted by the Italian republic of Florence from 1252 CE.

The gold coins attributed to the republic of Florence raise an interesting historical episode.

Siege of Acre (1291). Image via Wikipedia

Siege of Acre (1291). Image via Wikipedia

Beginning with the First Crusade in 1096 CE and continuing for two centuries, Christian armies crossed back and forth between Europe and the Middle East, struggling with Muslim forces; a crucial issue was the control over Jerusalem.

The crusaders captured Jerusalem from the Muslims in 1099 but the conflict continued and Jerusalem fell again, this time to the armies of Saladin, on October 2, 1187. Acre then replaced Jerusalem as the capital of the crusader kingdom and by the 13th century CE, it had become a major center of international trade, exporting sugar, spices, glass, textiles and more to Europe; weapons, metals, timber, armors, horses and horseshoes were imported to the Holy Land.

Transport ships capable of carrying horses directly from southern Europe to Acre, provided a lifeline for the "crusader states," a colonial feudal structure concentrated around ports in the Holy Land.

It was in the spring of 1291 that a vast army of more than 100,000 cavalry and foot soldiers under the new Mamluk sultan Al-Ashraf Khalil came to Acre, to boot the Crusaders out of the Holy Land.

The seaport of Acre, which retains its name from St. Jean d'Arc (Saint John of Acre) is situated at the northern point of the yawning crescent-shaped bay of Haifa.

Original story - here