Ancient Ottoman And Byzantine Shipwrecks Accidentally Discovered

By J Russ I. , Oct 26, 2016 12:55 AM EDT

The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project has been on a mission to map out the floor of the Black Sea. The study was geared towards understanding how quickly sea levels rose at the end of the last Ice Age, some 20,000 years ago. So it was to the researchers' surprise when they stumbled upon a Byzantine shipwrecks that's been remarkably preserved by the ocean itself, with some of the vessel belonging to the Ottoman period.

Byzantine Shipwrecks Found At The Black Sea's 'Dead Zone'

The find was located at the Black Sea's "dead zone" which begins 150-meters blow the water's surface. The region is named like so because at this depth no life is capable of surviving as light and oxygen doesn't exist here, which means that there is nothing that would feed on organic materials such as wood and flesh. Hence, the wreckage's exceptional preservation.

The maritime archaeologists said that there are 41 of the said ships lying on the ocean floor which were identified to have belonged to the Byzantine and Ottoman Empire. "The wrecks are a complete bonus, but a fascinating discovery, found during the course of our extensive geophysical survey," said Jon Adams, a professor at the University of Southampton and principle investigator of the project. To be precise on the location, the team found the Ottoman and Byzantine shipwrecks off the coast of Bulgaria, according to the Digital Journal.

Archaeologist To Collect Data And Move Retrievable Items From Byzantine Shipwrecks

They spotted and analyzed the ancient ships using two remotely operated underwater (ROV) vehicle as they were scanning the sea bed. One of the ROV is outfitted with a high-resolution camera capable of producing a 3D image of the environment. The other vehicle has lights and laser scanner designed to travel at a record-breaking 6 knots underwater, four times the speed of conventional ROVs.

Adams said that the two underwater vehicles were able to record astonishing 3D images without disturbing the sea bed. What really fascinated the researchers, however, was that the ships they uncovered were present in historical sources, but were never seen before. That is, of course, until now.

The next step for the archaeologists is to analyze as much as they can about the wreckage while leaving the vessels in place, reported the Independent. Following that, they will carefully take whatever they can move from the ship and transport it back to the surface. The discovery of the Byzantine shipwrecks will add new information regarding how the empires used the sea thousands of years ago.


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