Wartime campsite used by Crusaders is unearthed in Israel

Wartime campsite used by Crusaders is unearthed in Israel

Archaeologists in Israel have identified the remains of a Crusader encampment in Galilee dating to the 12th century, the first definitive evidence of a wartime campsite used by the Christian Templars in the Holy Land.

Though the historical record attests to their arrival — as do numerous castles and churches they left behind — there's very little attesting to actual battles between these two medieval world powers.

But preparatory excavations done in advance of expanding Route 79, a roadway connecting Nazareth with the Mediterranean Sea, turned up evidence of a wartime encampment held by Frankish invaders.

Archaeologists unearthed hundreds of metal artifacts — coins, arrowhead and items used to care for horses —that point to at least a temporary settlement during the time of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, between 1099 and 1291.

'It was a very exceptional opportunity to study a medieval encampment and to understand their material culture and archaeology,' Rafael Lewis, a researcher at Haifa University, told the Jerusalem Post.

Using a discipline known as 'artifact distribution analysis,' Lewis and Nimrod Getzov and Ianir Milevski of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) reconstructed the landscape as it would have appeared in the 12th century.

Given its access to the sea, the 20-mile route had been used since prehistory, and at this point was the site of both Muslim and Crusader campsites, Lewis said.

In addition to bridles, harness fittings, a currycomb and horseshoes, horseshoe nails represented a majority of the artifacts found by the researchers.

They also found a large quantity of 'aristocratic artifacts,' Haaretz reported, like hairpins and gilded buckles manufactured in the European style and likely used by knights and other elites—but little evidence of daily life, like cookery.

The archaeologists believe anything more substantial would have been quickly packed up and taken back to permanent fortifications.