The wreckage of a Crusader ship dating back to the 13th century C.E. has been discovered in the Northern Israeli city of Acre.
During the Middle Ages, Acre served as a landing point for thousands of Christian soldiers attempting to wrest control of the Holy Land from Muslim forces. The Crusaders ultimately succeeded in reclaiming Jerusalem in 1099 and established a kingdom reaching from Lebanon to the Gulf of Aqaba. This empire was short-lived. In 1187, Jerusalem was once again recaptured by the Muslim Sultan Saladin, after which Acre was established as the Crusader capital.
According to a Haaretz report Friday, a team of archaeologists led by Dr. Deborah Cvikel, Dr. Ehud Galili, and Prof. Michael Artzy of Haifa University discovered gold coins dating to 1291 C.E., the year of Acre’s destruction by Egypt’s Mamluk Sultanate.
In its report, Haaretz noted that the only parts of the shipwreck remaining were the keel, sections of the wooden hull, and a few wood planks. Archaeologists also discovered ceramic jugs and bowls underwater, the latter imported from Syria, Cyprus, and Southern Italy.
Thirty gold coins discovered by the archaeologists are connected to the Crusaders’ failed attempt to prevent over 100,000 Muslim foot soldiers and cavalry from expelling them from the Holy Land. The wealthier Christian civilians used their gold and jewelry to bribe small boat owners to ferry them to safety. After their victory, the Mamluks dismantled much of Acre to prevent the Crusaders’ return.
The Crusades were an incredibly dark period in Jewish history, as the “holy” warriors enthusiastically put Europe’s Jews to the sword, slaughtering around 800 alone in the German city of Worms in May 1096, according to Jewish Virtual Library.
“The undisciplined mobs accompanying the first three Crusades attacked the Jews in Germany, France, and England, and put many of them to death, leaving behind for centuries strong feelings of ill will on both sides,” Jewish Encyclopedia.com writes.