Mysterious fleet of 40 ancient ships found in ‘dead zone’ under the Black Sea

Scientists made the unexpected find while scouring for the remnants of prehistoric settlements in the sea near Bulgaria.

A SHIPWRECK graveyard of more than 40 vessels which lay perfectly preserved for centuries has been discovered by scientists at the bottom of the Black Sea.

Researchers came across the ghostly wrecks by chance while mapping the sea floor at depths of between 1,000ft and almost 6,000ft.


One of more than 40 ancient shipwrecks found at the bottom of the Black Sea near Bulgaria


The stern of an Ottoman shipwreck discovered in 300m of water is well preserved because of the lack of oxygen


An Ottoman period shipwreck shows unique preservation in wood carvings

At those depths there is so little oxygen that the timbers hardly decay – meaning wooden structures and even intricate carvings that are many hundreds of years old are still intact.

And they have been brought back to life with 3D imaging technology that reveals detailed pictures of the wrecks without disturbing the seabed.

Archaeologists have long believed there was a “dead zone” beneath the surface but had not yet found evidence of its existence.

Now the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project, led by the University of Southampton’s Centre for Maritime Archaeology, have made an astonishing find near the coast of Bulgaria.

They were using high-tech underwater equipment to scan submerged prehistoric landscapes that were flooded thousands of years ago when sea levels rose after the last ice age.

While mapping the terrain under the seabed they discovered dozens of preserved wrecks from the Byzantine and Ottoman periods.


The wreck of an Ottoman ship visible under the lights from the research team’s remotely operated underwater vehicle


The Surveyor Interceptor sub ‘flies’ at four times the speed of conventional ROVs and carries a suite of geophysical instruments as well as lights, high definition cameras and a laser scanner

Principle investigator Professor Jon Adams said: “The wrecks are a complete bonus, but a fascinating discovery, found during the course of our extensive geophysical surveys.

“They are astonishingly preserved due to the anoxic conditions of the Black Sea below 150 metres (500ft).

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