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Ancient Ship Found Well-Preserved In Black Sea

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 383 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... ANCIENT SHIP FOUND WELL-PRESERVED IN BLACK SEA CNN
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3, 2000
      NHNE News List
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      CNN Correspondent David George and AP
      Friday, November 3, 2000


      WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Famed explorer Robert Ballard says he's still numb after
      discovering an almost perfectly preserved wreck of a ship that sank 1,500
      years ago in the Black Sea off the coast of Turkey.

      The ship is about 1000 feet (300 meters) down in water where there's no
      oxygen, a situation that's fatal to the wood boring organisms that would
      normally devour a wooden shipwreck.

      "Basically wood borers are opportunistic organisms," said Ballard at a
      Thursday news conference at the National Geographic Society. "When the food
      is supplied they multiply very rapidly and they eat the wood supply and then
      they literally die at the dinner table."

      Cargo seen in 3 other ships

      Ballard, who found the Titanic in 1985, led the million dollar expedition
      under the Black Sea.

      Dealing with such a well-preserved ship presents a problem, Ballard said. In
      the past, shipwrecks of that age had all the wood eaten away and only the
      contents remained.

      "We don't know what to do" to study it, he said. "I think we're still numb."
      He said a meeting is scheduled for next month to consider how best to deal
      with the ship.

      The ship is about 45 feet long, with a 35-foot tall standing mast.

      Three other nearby wrecks found nearby are less well preserved. They were
      trading vessels believed to date from the Roman or Byzantine period,
      probably built between the fourth and sixth centuries A.D.

      All three contained large quantities of terracotta jars that carried wine,
      oil or other liquids. The carrot-shaped design of the jars was used by
      artisans in ancient Sinop, Ward said.

      Deep-diving robots view wreck

      Scientists from the National Geographic Society discovered the four wrecks
      last month with the aid of three tethered, deep-diving robots.

      "What we saw was absolutely astounding," said nautical archaeologist Cheryl
      Ward. The ship's mast is still standing and stanchions rest nearby, held
      together with wooden pegs.

      "No archaeologist has even been able to study anything like this," she said.
      "We have never been able to look at the deck of an ancient ship."

      Carbon dating of the ship's wood indicated it was 1,500 years old, dating
      from between 410 and 520 A.D.

      "We're already starting to ask new questions about ancient seafaring
      practices and shipbuilding, such as, How did they fasten the frames to the
      planking?" said Ward.

      Ships in those times were built "skin first," with the outside structure
      crafted before the inside was filled in. "It's the complete opposite of how
      we do it today," Ward said. No cargo was visible in the wreck, so the ship's
      purpose is not yet known.

      Ballard gave Turkey credit for the new discovery.

      "Thanks to the excellent collaborative assistance from Turkish authorities,
      we have had a tantalizing peek at the wealth of historical information the
      Black Sea holds," Ballard said.

      The expedition was supported by the National Geographic Society, the U.S.
      Navy's Office of Naval Research, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
      Administration and the J.M. Kaplan Fund.

      Expedition participants came from the Institute for Exploration, Woods Hole
      Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole Marine Systems Inc., the University of
      Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Massachusetts
      Institute of Technology, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology in College
      Station, Texas, and Marr Vessel Management Ltd.

      Earlier, the same team of scientists found what they said appear to be
      remnants of an ancient site where humans might have lived, along the
      submerged coastline west of Sinop, Turkey. The find included an apparent
      man-made building foundation built when the area was dry land, nearly 8,000
      years ago, before a cataclysmic flood.

      Items found included wooden logs and stones that appeared to have been
      carved into blocks by human hands.


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