Audio News for May 31st to June 6th.

Welcome to the Audio News from Archaeologica! I’m Laura Pettigrew and these are the headlines in archaeological and historical news from May 31st to June 6th.

Newly unearthed WW2 plane to go on display in London

Our first story is from London where the engine and control panel of a World War II Hurricane that crashed near Buckingham Palace after destroying a German bomber has been found.  The digging team was excavating the site in Westminster, where they discovered the plane's firing button.  During the Battle of Britain, pilot Ray Holmes, now 89, ran out of ammunition so he flew his Hurricane into the German bomber on September 15th 1940.  He used his aircraft to slice off the bomber's tail before bailing out. It is thought the German bomber may have been on a mission to destroy Buckingham Palace.  Experts at the site have said the engine, which hit the ground at about 350 miles an hour and was buried under a water main, is in remarkably good condition.  The find will go on display as part of Westminster's West End, and then move on permanently to the Imperial War Museum in London. Footage of the crash survives and will be broadcast on a giant screen in Leicester Square during the exhibition events. The salvage team has spent the last 12 years planning the excavation and getting permission for the operation. Pilot Homes was present s the engine was lifted to ground level.

 New location proposed for Bronze Age Byblos

In Beirut, underwater archaeologist, Ibrahim Noureddine (E-bra-HAM nor-ED-dine) is currently working on his doctorate about ancient ports, trying to figure out whether people in the Bronze Age built their harbors or used the natural foundation.  It is not an easy task, as he does not even know for sure yet where to dig for the old harbors.  Findings were presented in a lecture at the French Cultural Center (FCC), as part of a series of archaeological lectures presenting new research.  The current Byblos (BIB-los) port could never have harbored Phoenician ships, as it is too small.  He is almost certain of this because of ancient Egyptian records.  Rulers kept track of what they bought, such as cedar wood from Lebanon. The most famous of such records is the Palermo Stone, which lists events during the first five dynasties (2925-2325 BC). On it, the Egyptians noted that Pharaoh Snefru ordered 40 ships filled with cedar wood from Byblos (BIB-los), each ship being 100 cubits, or about 150 feet long. How this could have fit into a tiny fishing harbor is the question. The current harbor is only 8 ½ feet deep and couldn't have been deeper 4,500 years ago, because the ground is solid stone. Another reference to the ancient port, Noureddine (nor-ED-dine) said, is the diary of Wenamoun, from the 12th century BC. The Egyptian envoy was robbed on his way to Byblos, where he was supposed to pick up Cedar logs. Without anything to pay, he had to wait 29 days in front of the port until the prince of Byblos agreed to meet him. After he was finally received at the royal residence, he described that from the palace he was overlooking the sea. Archaeologists have never found this royal residential area, which makes it probable that it was located south of the city. Thus, he believes the harbor must have been to the south of the city, which has never been excavated. The sand beach could have formed over thousands of years from sediments created by the a river, that flows into the sea north of the beaches, creating a 1500 foot deep-sea valley. While traces of a harbor should be found under the sand, suspicions are that a graveyard of Phoenician ships lies in the sea valley.  Noureddine (nor-ED-dine), has been diving in front of the beaches where he found several ancient anchors - flat stones with three holes in them - again supporting his theory. In the area he has located, he would like to dig boreholes in the sand taking samples, which would tell him more exactly where the harbor was located. If he could find traces, the Department of Antiquities would surely support him in digging out the harbor, he said.

Canadian archaeologists explore Doukhobor dugouts

In Canada, archaeologists and volunteer team members have embarked on a dig with hopes of learning about the early life of pacifist refugees who fled Russia in 1899. The Doukhobors (DOO-ko-BORS) came to Canada to escape persecution. Earlier this week, about 24 people began searching for one of the first places they settled in Canada, a site with historical and religious significance for the group. They settled just south of Blaine Lake on a long-since-abandoned site overlooking the North Saskatchewan (sa-SKATCH-e-WON) River. Archeologists want to find out more about the 300 people who lived in rough houses built into the sides of hills. One expert stated that it’s believed that there's never been a dugout that's really been excavated before, so the interest lies in seeing how they built the structure and where they put things inside.  Modern day Doukhobors (DOO-ko-BORS) say that by revisiting their history, they hope to keep the memory of their religion and culture alive for future generations.  One local woman’s family has owned the land for generations.  She remembers talking to her family about the caves their ancestors lived in. The work began with a religious ceremony. The dig will continue all summer.

Modern-Day Vikings re-enact voyage to Land of the Saracens

Our final story is from the Black Sea where a group of modern-day Vikings are sailing the Black Sea, retracing part of a trip that Scandinavian explorers might have made nearly 1,000 years ago. In 1036, the Viking king named Ingvar the Far-Traveled is believed to have led an expedition from Sweden to the distant Caspian Sea. Almost a millennium later, a crew of nine modern-day Vikings, in a replica Viking ship, is retracing part of what was believed to have been the original route. The expedition began about a month ago from a village on a river in Ukraine, not far from the city of Kherson (ker-SON). It has already passed the Crimean Peninsula. The Vikings intend to follow the Russian and Abkhaz coasts to the Georgian port of Poti. From Poti, the expedition will proceed to a village via the Rioni (ri-ONI) River that flows to the Caspian Sea. The final destination is Azerbaijan's (AZ-er-bi-JANs) capital, Baku (ba-KOO). The expedition has already had delays because of bureaucracy. Initially, the Vikings had hoped to reach the Russian port of Novorossiisk (NO-ve-re-SEESK) at the end of May, Poti in mid-June, Tbilisi (te-be-LEE-see) in early July, and Baku (ba-KOO) by mid-August. Swedish archaeologist Mats Larsson says stories from the original expedition can still be found on runic stones in Sweden.  The runic stones tell about the fight to the east, from Sweden, probably for some Russian prince.  It was common for Swedish warriors to go to Russia and fight as mercenaries.  They also say they went to the south to a place called 'Serkland,' which probably is the land of the Saracens, the Muslim areas around the Caspian Sea.

That wraps up the news for this week!
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I’m Laura Pettigrew and I’ll see you next week!