The Black Sea’s Amazing “Perfectly Preserved” Ship Graveyard

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In the waters of the Black Sea, approximately 60 shipwrecks have been discovered, ranging from the Byzantine era to the 19th century and detailing millennia of maritime history.

The area has been described as a “ship graveyard,” but some of the ships are actually in great conditions.

The three-year project, Black Sea MAP, is one of the largest marine archeological projects ever staged—and it wasn’t even searching for ships in the beginning. Instead, researchers only wanted to complete geological surveys of the black sea to study the effects of climate change. But they stumbled upon a lot more.

The earliest ship dates back to the 4th or 5th century, and go through the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and beyond. Researchers have called the important discovery “unrivaled.”

‘‘We have never seen anything like this before,” said Dr. Kroum Batchvarov, from the University of Connecticut. “This is history in the making unfolding before us.”

The researchers used remotely operated vehicles (ROV) with high-resolution 3D cameras to survey the seabed. Many of the ships are in excellent condition because the Black Sea is anoxic and devoid of organisms.

“There’s one medieval trading vessel where the towers on the bow and stern are pretty much still there,” Ed Parker, CEO of Black Sea MAP, said. “It’s as if you are looking at a ship in a movie, with ropes still on the deck and carvings in the wood.”

The team is keeping the locations of the ships secret while they study them.