Dispatch 2: Ready, willing, but unable
September 1, 2000
At 3:45 p.m. today the Northern Horizon
entered the Black Sea after completing the 17-mile [27-
kilometer] passage through the Bosporus Strait from
Istanbul. An hour later, Bob Ballard called the
expedition crew together below decks to outline the
teams mission and search strategy.
Weeks one and four the team will spend searching
shallow-water areas for early Paleolithic settlements,
Ballard said. Weeks two and three the team will search
deep-water regions for shipwrecks of antiquity believed
to lie along ancient trade routes.
Looking in the right placefor the right
cluesis key to the teams success. All who
were gathered knew that.
The right place in the case of Paleolithic settlements, Ballard estimates,
would be livable areas, regions with
broad stretches of flat land or river valleys and deltas.
To determine where those areas lie, Ballard explained,
we pulled the plug and drained the Black Sea to
what it was about 7,000 years agothen put the
plug back in.
The topography that emerges provides a number of clues.
Much of the old coastline is steep cliff. It can be ruled out.
The same is true for an area of beach. What remains are two prime
areas of broad, flat land that might have been settled by
Paleolithic peoples prior to the inundation of the Black
Ballard announced the plan to start searching the first
target area around 6:00 p.m. The team would lower the
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutes side-scan
sonar unit, the DSL-120, and begin collecting data. As
Ballard told the crew, Tonight well
either be confirming our thoughts or scratching our
The DSL-120 team prepped the unit and awaited the go-ahead.
But the O.K. never came. Monitors from the
Turkish government, traveling onboard the
Northern Horizon. denied permission for the
drop. The reason? The area lay outside the search zone
approved by the expedition teams research
The expedition team lost their chance to search a
prime piece of real estate, as Dwight
Coleman, an oceanographer from the Institute for
Exploration in Mystic, Connecticut, would say later.
It will take another 10 to 12 hours for the Northern
Horizon to reach its second target, a 150-square-
mile [390-square-kilometer] area found roughly 5 to 15
miles [8 to 24 kilometers] off the coast in the area of
Sinop. What was to be a busy night for team members
became instead time for equipment checks, rest, and
Go to 1999 Dispatches
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