National Geographic Online

(Thursday, November 2, 2000)

Ancient Wooden Ship Emerges Intact

A National Geographic expedition to the Black Sea led by Explorer-in-Residence Robert Ballard discovered four ancient shipwrecks, one almost perfectly preserved with its wooden mast and stanchions still standing about 1,000 feet (300 meters) below the sea. The expedition also discovered evidence of what may be an archaeological site.

The discovery in September of the well-preserved ship confirms scientists’ belief that the oxygen-deprived waters of the Black Sea below 656 feet (200 meters) provide an ideal environment for preserving ancient wooden vessels, making that sea a treasure-house for archaeologists. Shipwrecks in most other bodies of water usually are robbed of their wooden parts quickly by wood-boring organisms.

Scientific analysis of the expedition’s archaeological materials, conducted under the direction of chief archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, included radiocarbon dating of wood from the shipwreck and five wooden artifacts recovered from an apparent archaeological site discovered about 300 feet (about 100 meters) below the surface of the Black Sea. The site was near the submerged ancient coastline, flooded several thousand years ago.

Read full press release Resources:

View the November 2 press conference (NEW)
Read the November 2 press release (NEW)
Read the September 25 media advisory
Read the September 19 media advisory
• Read the September 13, 2000 U.S./Canada press release. (An international version of the press release is also available.)

• High-resolution images for the media from the September 13 release:
     underwater1.jpg (303K)
     underwater2.jpg (343K)
     underwater3.jpg (336K)
     ballard.jpg (830K)

Ballard Finds Traces of Ancient Habitation Beneath Black Sea (exclusive news coverage)

Photo Gallery

View the preliminary site sketch

• "It appears to be from the Stone Age"
(hear the account in Ballard’s own words—RealVideo)

Conference Call with the Expedition team
(with Ballard—RealAudio)

Ballard & the Black Sea (feature)

Explorers-in-Residence (biography)