Beneath the sands of a harbor used for 5,000 years by conquerors and traders, archaeologists are hunting for two giant cannons that were the pride of Napoleon's army.
The team led by Kurt Raveh already has found more than a dozen smaller cannons. They also found muskets, gunpowder and bullet molds used by French soldiers in a failed 1799 invasion.But the real prize will be two siege guns, decorated with scenes of the French army's battles and so heavy they had to be pulled by 22 horses each.
Napoleon abandoned the guns because he needed the horses to move his soldiers, who were sick, wounded and starving.
"The soldiers seemed to forget their own suffering at the loss of these bronze guns, which had enabled them so often to triumph and which had made Europe tremble," wrote his aide, Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne.
Raveh is using a map drawn by Napoleon's cartographer and diaries and letters by his troops to discover the link between Dor, 15 miles south of the modern port of Haifa, and the French campaign against the Ottoman Empire.
He believes the deceptively placid waters of Dor harbor also will prove to be a treasure trove of shipwrecks up to 2,500 years old, protected by sand bars that form a barrier against turbulent currents.
"Every time there is a storm, the sand moves and we find a new discovery," he said.
Already the Dor harbor has yielded more than 2,000 oil lamps, missiles for catapults, primitive Crusader hand grenades, silver plates and candlesticks, 200 pounds of jewelry and more than a ton of coins.