While probing the depths of the Black Sea last year, a team of scientists made a surprising discovery, one that they weren’t even looking for. The group had been investigating the effects of sea-level change on early human societies, but after their underwater cameras probed the depths of the Black Sea they quickly saw why the Greeks nicknamed it the “Hostile Sea.” In its deep, dark waters, ancient shipwrecks are scattered across the seafloor.
At first, wreck-spotting was far from the minds of the Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP) team, who started surveying the seabed off the coast of Bulgaria. Partnering with maritime archaeologists from across Europe and the United States, MAP’s mission was to study how sea-level change affected early human societies around the end of the last ice age, about 12,000 years ago.
As Earth warmed and glacial ice melted, sea levels rose. Water from the Mediterranean spilled over into Asia Minor, creating the Black Sea. While studying these environmental changes, the MAP team’s remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) stumbled on the first of the wrecks that lay untouched on the bottom.