When a team of scientists set out on a mission across the Black Sea, they never expected to make a discovery that would shed light on a forgotten moment in history.
The Black Sea has always been a desired place for Scientists to visit with its many unsolved mysteries hidden deep in the water. It was one morning aboard a research ship, something outstanding was discovered. Traveling across the sea, a team of scientists monitored a surveillance screen and little did they know, their lives were about to change.
The scientists were hoping to find something unusual, but they were never expecting to find a piece of history that would later be described as one of the world’s most extraordinary discoveries, that would tell the world about a forgotten time, and reveal information that had been kept a secret for decades.
The team was led by a professor at the University of Southampton in England. An archaeology expert, Jon Adams, set up a team that would head out to the Black Sea to gather information for a survey on submerged landscapes. Unknown to most, there are places all over the world that have been forgotten, after water has flooded the area.
Adams’ team had been working hard on their quest since 2015, and each team member was as passionate as the other. All with the desire to show the world more about it’s past. The team looked into depths of the Black Sea, that had not been observed before. There, they used their equipment to explore 6,000 feet below the surface of the water.
Best Type Of Equipment
The research itself made history, this was due to the fact that depths of this range had not been seen by another human being since the era of the Ice Age. Adams needed the absolute best equipment to complete his task, and to put it into perspective exactly how deep they were going to explore – humans are not able to travel any deeper than 130 feet into any body of water.
Along The Sea Floor
The equipment used was some of the most expensive in the business, and the team’s vessel was rigged with the finest underwater technology. The team operated with two vessels, one being off-shore where they operated two Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), which rode along the sea floor and sent data about its surroundings back to the other vessel.
The two ROV’s were somewhat different. One was equipped with ultra-high-definition cameras, bright lights to enable the machine to see through the vast sea and a laser scanner that could scan and send perfectly accurate data back to the main ship. It was this data that unearthed something that had been lying on the sea bed for centuries.
What Would They Discover?
Adams’ team had their mission set. They were to go out and explore the areas of the Black Sea that had once already been surveyed, in a bid to discover what other scientists may have missed. This wasn’t a favored move by the team, but they set out on their mission nonetheless.
Dream Of Thier Own
Not only did they want to go over old ground but they had a dream between them that they would find something no one had seen before. They set a task upon themselves to understand more about the pre-historic communities and hope they would find something that would help connect some of the dots in history.
Over the last three years, the team of scientists have scoured the Black Sea and have racked up a staggering 800 miles of the sea floor. During this time, at specific locations, they had collected around 330 feet of sediment core samples, finding much more than what they had originally thought.
Astoundingly, as they looked around the seabed, they found around 60 different shipwreck sites, each dating back to an entirely different time period and with little information being known about any of them.
Completely Different Time Periods
The sites showed ships from the Roman, Hellenistic and Byzantine periods. One of the beautiful things about the sea is that because the water has little oxygen, treasures can be beautifully preserved.
After two seasons out in the Black Sea, the team wondered if they would find anything exciting on their third season, and that is exactly what happened. This season would be their most successful, but it wasn’t until the end of the exploration that they made the discovery. During the course of the last couple of weeks out at sea, they found 20 additional shipwrecks which had some seriously interesting features.
The more recent ships that they detected were more preserved than what they could have ever dreamt and not only that, but some still had the ship and crew equipment resting there on the deck. With a mast standing tall and rudders still intact, they had identified lost pieces of history. The shipwreck set excitement running through the scientist’s bodies.
Lost Part Of History
The discoveries went on to show much more and they saw structural features and intact fittings, with most of these things only previously being seen on drawings from the past. As amazing as all of this was, their find was about to get much more exciting. What they were about to see would help the world to better understand a part of history that had been long forgotten.
The Biggest Find
An unusual sighting, as they scanned the seabed in late 2017, Adams’ team saw an oddity in that of a 75-foot-long ship. The shipwreck could not be seen in its entirety as half of it lay buried deep into the sand. Along with the other wrecks, this ship had been wholly preserved and a marine archaeologist told us exactly why.
One Big Pickle Jar
The shipwreck showed its rowing benches and mast in fantastic condition and in order for the team to understand why, marine archaeologist Brendan Foley explained, “The usual critters that eat wood and other organics elsewhere… cannot live in these anoxic waters, so shipwrecks… are preserved as if they were in a… big pickle jar.”
Comparing The Discovery
As the impressive equipment operated around the shipwreck capturing images and videos, the team believed it was an oar-and-sail-powered Greek ship. Their opinion was based on the carving of a Greek trading vessel found on the Siren Vase, the famous vase was found and it was then transferred to a British museum in London.
In ancient times, Greece was one of the most important places in the world. As well as knowledgeable traders, they were highly skilled writers, athletes and much more. At that time, they referred to themselves as the Hellences, which then changed once the Romans began calling them the Greeks.
Finding New Land
The Greeks spent a lot of their time on the water, sailing across the Black Sea. They built their economy on trade and would take it upon themselves to find new land as they did it. Amazingly, people have been living in Greece for more than 40,000 years.
The vase is known as one of the most famous finds of the Greek era. It shows in pictures the words of poet Homer in his “The Odyssey” poem. The carvings show Odysseus tied to a ship and the vase has been dated way back to around 480 B.C, with a mystery still surrounding whom the creator of the vase was. The scientists were more than curious as to how the two were connected.
It Was A Big Deal
Even if they wanted to, the shipwreck couldn’t be moved without a thorough investigation to ensure that it remains in its preserved state. Because of this, the team was only able to take a small sample piece in which they removed using the ROV, this piece was then used for radiocarbon dating. The test results proved just how remarkable the find was.
Thousands Of Years Old
Through doing the test, the team understood how important the discovery was. The carbon dating test revealed the ship dated all the way back to 400 B.C, meaning that the ship had been resting there, undiscovered, on the seafloor of the Black Sea, for an astounding 2,400 years!
With that being said, once reported, the team were told they had just found the oldest most intact shipwreck that had ever been discovered. Speaking of the find, Adams said, “A ship, surviving intact, from the Classical world, lying in over two kilometers of water, is something I would never have believed possible.”
Adams continued, “This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.” He led his team alongside Lyudmil Vagalinsky of the Academy of Science and Kalin Dimitrov of the Center of Underwater Archaeology and the discovery was the height of all their careers.
Scientists across the globe were aware that in the vastness of the Black Sea, there would be shipwrecks seeped in history. But would it ever be possible to find them? That was a question no one knew the answer to.
Trading Across The Sea
Before now, the only discovery that pre-dated the Greek vessel was 3000-year-old fragments of sunken ships. The revelation would give an insight into how the Greek’s traded all those years ago.
As a result of the perfect preservation, scientists would now be able to understand much more about how far the Greek trading ships were operating off the coast. Another question everyone wanted the answers to, was as to how the ship had sunk. After some research, the team reached the conclusion that a storm would have caused water to come aboard and sink the ship.
Who Was Aboard The Ship?
As the archaeologists continued to look into the history of the ship, they understood that there would have been a crew of around 15 to 25 men and for a ship of that size, they wouldn’t have been able to bail the water overboard quick enough. With the outstanding technology we now have available in the world, the team put a report together of what they found.
What Did They Trade?
The Greeks mainly traded olive oil, wine, pottery and metalwork across the sea. Unfortunately, because of this many lost their lives at sea. Despite storms that echoed above the area, there was no option for the men to stay on land. They had a job to do and it was as simple as that.
During another quest, 22 Greek shipwrecks were found and out of the 22 discovered, researchers understood that only around 4 of those ships could have made it to shore if they were able to swim in calmer waters.
How Did They Do It?
Foley, a scientist, explained how it was possible for them to make such a huge discovery, “The new systems reduce the costs of deep ocean survey and search, and increase the area that can be investigated in a given time. Now it’s becoming possible to map an entire basin (think: the whole Black Sea) and discover every shipwreck on the seafloor.”
Putting It In A Museum
Even though the discovery could easily find its place in a museum, Adams’ team decided they wanted to honor the ship by leaving it exactly where they had found it. What would happen if another team decided they wanted to move it?
Part of moving the ship would mean taking it apart thus destroying its preservation. With that in mind, the team never went on to disclose any information regarding the coordinates of the spectacular encounter. This amazing piece of history stays with them.