Explorers Find Ship Wreckage at Bottom of Black Sea

Lindsey Marie Round

Explorers shed new light, both figuratively and literally, on ship wreckage at the base of the Black Sea.[1] They used technology to take high resolution photos of ship wreckage that can be dated back to the 13th or 14th century.[2] This marks the first time that a ship of this kind has been discovered in such complete form.[3] Scientists believe that ships such as the one discovered predate vessels used to explore the New World and served the Venetian empire.[4] The ship was found over a half-mile deep in the sea, and the condition of the vessel’s masts, timbers, and planking appeared to be almost completely preserved.[5] The team used photogrammetry, composing thousands of photographs and readings, to produce an image that appears three dimensional.[6]

However, this discovery is not the only one of its kind. Recently, explorers have found more than forty ships off the coast of the Bulgaria, ranging from those used in the ninth century all the way to the nineteenth century.[7] What makes these discoveries so valuable is the remarkable condition that each ship has been found in.[8] For the most part, these ships are unbelievably intact.[9] Scientist Dr. Foley, credits this incredible preservation to the lack of oxygen in the deep waters.[10] This lack of oxygen is caused by the immense amount of fresh water that rivers pour “into the sea that a permanent layer forms over the denser, salty water from the Mediterranean.”[11] This system prevents oxygen from the atmosphere, which readily mixes with fresh water, from penetrating the barrier and reaching the bottom of the sea, where ship wreckage remains lie.[12]

These discoveries, as well as future discoveries that explorers will inevitably make when a greater area of the Black Sea is studied and searched, help historians and people today further understand the trade routes and movement of individuals years ago. These vessels contain stories of individuals that lived years ago that we would not be able to any other way. Science has played an invaluable part in preserving this history that we would not otherwise have access to. It will be interesting to see what other discoveries are found in the future, now that researchers know that a potential undiscovered world lies in the depths of the Black Sea.


[1] William J. Broad, ‘We Couldn’t Believe Our Eyes’: A Lost World of Shipwrecks Is Found, N.Y. Times (Nov. 11, 2016), http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/12/science/shipwrecks-black-sea-archaeology.html.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Broad, supra note 1.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Broad, supra note 1.

[12] Id.