Forty-one ancient shipwrecks have been accidentally discovered by an international team of maritime archaeologists performing geophysical surveys of the Black Sea.
The shipwrecks, which lie at the bottom of the sea off the coast of Bulgaria, date from the Byzantine and Ottoman periods and it’s believed that they were used for trade rather than battle. The vessels are well preserved due to the Black Sea’s anoxic conditions, which sees little oxygen at depths of more than 150m below sea level.
This major discovery was made with the help of advanced underwater survey equipment. The scientists were also able to create compelling images of the shipwrecks using high-resolution 3D photography.
The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project has been investigating the seabed using sonar and deep-sea diving ROVs (remotely operated vehicles). As stated on the project’s website, its aim is to determine the impact of sea-level change on early human civilisations in this region, as well as to record and study the submerged cultural heritage of Bulgaria.
The earliest known inhabitants of Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast were the cave-dwelling Neolithic peoples, and many museums along the coast such as the Varna Archaeological Museum have artefacts from this period as well as the Copper and early Bronze Ages.
The Romans followed in the 1st century AD; among the remnants of their presence are Varna’s Roman Thermae. In the Middle Ages, the coastal region was dominated first by Byzantium and later the Ottoman Empire, with cities like Varna and Sozopol thriving as commercial ports.