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60 shipwrecks that date back 2,500 years have been found perfectly preserved on the bed of the Black Sea. The shipwrecks are said to include galleys from the Ottoman, Byzantine, and Roman empires.
The Black Sea Has No Oxygen Or Light So Very Little Survives
The scientists found the ghostly graveyard of shipwrecks when they were using robots underwater to look at the effects that climate change is having on the coastline of Bulgaria. The Black Sea has almost no oxygen or light, and this means that very little can survive in its depths and this is the reason why the shipwrecks have managed to survive for so long and remain in excellent condition.
Researchers have now said that the discovery of the shipwrecks in unrivaled and a lot of the ships at the bottom of the Black Sea have features that up to now have only ever been seen in drawings and written descriptions. Intricate carvings on the wood of the ships have managed to remain intact over the centuries and rope that is said to be well preserved has been found on one vessel dating back to Roman times, estimated to be 2,000 years old.
One image revealed a 3D model of the Roman ship which was in 650 feet of water in the Black Sea, and it showed it still had its mast standing, along with having both rudders and tillers attacked. There was rope draped over the frames of it that had been preserved in the anoxic conditions of the Black Sea. Thanks to no oxygen or light there is no life in the anoxic layer and so no organisms to eat the wood and organic materials.
The project which uncovered the shipwrecks is called the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project, and it is being led by the University of Southampton Centre for Maritime Archaeology. The CEO of the project Ed Parker said that some of the shipwrecks that have been found have previously only been seen on murals or mosaics.
He went on to say that there was one medieval trading vessel which had towers on the bow and the stern and these have remained in place. He said that it is as if you are watching a movie, all the ropes remain in place on the decks and you can see the wood carvings. Many of the vessels found in the shipwrecks date back around 1,300 years. However, one of the oldest found dates back to the 4th century BC. Most of the details and the locations about the shipwrecks are being kept a secret to ensure that they are not disturbed.
The research team used two remote operated vehicles when they were surveying the bed of the Black Sea, and this led to them finding the wrecks. Some shipwrecks were found following expeditions that were undertaken over a period of three years.
Professor Jon Adams from the University of Southampton said that the shipwrecks were some of the finest underwater museum ships to have ever been discovered. They have located thanks to the use of some of the most advanced equipment used underwater in the world and after the expedition scoured the Black Sea up to depths of 5, 900 feet.
The team had found 40 wrecks on their previous two expeditions, but on their most recent trip to the Black Sea, they came across another 20 sites. When Professor Adams returned to the Port of Burgas in Bulgaria, he said that the expedition is drawing to an end in its third season after conducting a survey that has so far been 800 miles and recovering more than 330 feet of core samples of sediment and finding 20 more shipwreck sites.