In the Black Sea, off the coast of Bulgaria, a shroud of darkness envelopes the seabed. Nothing lives here, and no light reaches the floor. What’s more, within these eerie depths, a team of researchers chanced upon an unprecedented discovery: dozens of ancient, astoundingly well-preserved shipwrecks.
The international team responsible for the accidental find was headed by the U.K.’s University of Southampton’s Centre for Maritime Archeology. Partnered with institutions in Bulgaria, Sweden, the United States and Greece, they dubbed their project “The Black Sea Maritime Archeology Project” (Black Sea MAP).
Their original mission had been to create a “paleoenvironmental reconstruction of Black Sea History.” As Professor Jon Adams explained on the University of Southampton website, “The primary focus… is to carry out geophysical surveys to detect former land surfaces buried below the current sea bed, take core samples and characterize and date them.”