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Israeli archaeologists protect an ancient port’s treasures from pipeline construction

A pipeline from the deep-sea Leviathan gas field, which will begin production late next year off the coast of Israel, will come ashore near Dor Beach, the site of a 5,000-year-old port. Underwater archaeologists are now scouring the seabed there to preserve artifacts of marine traders throughout the ages, from the Phoenicians to the Romans. Megan Thompson reports.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Off the coast of northern Israel, archaeologists have found ancient relics in the seabed where a gas pipeline is being built. But tapping into the undersea natural gas field known as leviathan is not without controversy. Environmentalists and local residents worry thousands of years of treasures may be lost during the undersea construction project. NewsHour Weekend Correspondent Megan Thompson has the story.

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    In the waters off the coast of northern Israel near the ancient port city of Dor, a team of divers has discovered earthenware jugs, anchors and the remains of wrecked ships; some dating to the time of Phoenician and Roman sea trade. The marine archaeology unit of the Israel antiquities authority is working with the pipeline's developer which financed most of the research and recovery.

  • BINYAMIN ZOMER, NOBLE ENERGY:

    We work very closely with the antiquities authority here in Israel to make sure that should we discover such finds we first of all avoid causing harm to those areas and secondly to make sure that they are aware of the resources and potential finds that they have.

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    Noble Energy says its project will not harm the environment. But some local environmentalists and residents oppose the planned offshore platform and pipeline and worry about what other treasures may be lost.

  • KURT RAVEH, RESIDENT AND MARINE ARCHAEOLOGIST:

    There is no way that you can check all the hundreds of kilometers of pipeline. We know only that for a thousand years, 5,000 years, shipwrecks are laying out here. If one sunk every year, there must be thousands of them. Here in the site of a football field we found already 28, so who knows how many more under this region.

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    Protesters near the popular coastal area continue to object to the gas pipeline which is Israel's largest energy project.

  • KURT RAVEH:

    I'm more afraid of the whole environment, if there will be an oil spill or whatever, condense. Things like that, it will destroy the whole, everything you see here, the whole tourist industry. It's crazy that with the wind going this direction and the current going this direction that you put the petro-chemical industry 400 meters from hotel region, resort area, from the most beautiful preserved beach that you have in the country.

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