Submerged paleoshorelines in the southern and western Black Sea-Implications for inundated prehistoric archaeological sites

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During the course of six field seasons, from 1998 to 2003, groups from the Institute for Exploration (IFE) and, recently, the Institute for Archaeological Oceanography (IAO) at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography (URI-GSO) have conducted expeditions to the Black Sea for marine geological and archaeological research. These expeditions were conducted in partnership with groufprso m other institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania, Florida State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Institute for Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Oceanographically, the Black Sea is a distinctive body of water with highly preservative anoxic bottom water and a submerged coastal plain that was exposed and possibly habitable for periods of time in the recent geologic past. Archaeologically, the Black Sea basin has a rich maritime-oriented history with a number of coastal and near-coastal sites around the present-day perimeter that contain important information about human history from Poaliethic times to the present. Using a suite of deep submergence technologies, a deep-towed side-scan sonar and subbottom profiling system, an optical imaging towsled, and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) systems, we have discovered, surveyed, imaged, and sampled several interesting geological and archaeological sites that shed more light on the ancient natural and human history of the region. These include several well-preserved prehistoric shorelines presently submerged about 150 m below present-day sea level, a very well preserved wooden ship dating to Byzantine times about 1500 years ago, an amphora-laden trading vessel dating to the Hellenistic period about 2400 years ago, and a possible site of human habitation along one of the ancient shorelines that was inundated during the Neolithic period more than 8000 years ago. © 2007 Springer.

Publication Title

The Black Sea Flood Question: Changes in Coastline, Climate, and Human Settlement