Archaeologists Explore Bulgaria's Submerged Cultural Heritage in Black Sea
The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (Black Sea M.A.P), one of the largest international maritime archaeological projects ever attempted, has completed its first field season.
The field season lasted between 13 September and 16 October 2015 and was conducted within a designated area according to a permit issued by the Bulgarian government.
The survey covered a total area of 1,000 km2 and was carried out in full compliance with the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001) in accordance with Bulgaria’s status as one of the original signatories of the Convention.
The research was carried out on one deep sea marine vessel, The Aegaeo, and one inshore coastal survey boat, Nomad.
All data collected from the field season will be analysed throughout the forthcoming winter and results will be officially announced in the spring of next year at the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences' annual archaeological reports sessions.
The data collected offshore have already been handed to the Bulgarian Centre for Underwater Archaeology as representatives of the Bulgarian government.
The project is the first integrated archaeological exploration of Bulgarian waters on this scale, mapping the submerged cultural heritage of Bulgaria, and contributing to the building of the prehistoric and historic environmental record of human activity in this region.
The three-year project, which is funded by the Expedition and Education Foundation (EEF), constitutes the first collaboration between the Centre for Maritime Archaeology, University of Southampton and the Centre for Underwater Archaeology, Bulgaria assisted by the Bulgarian Archaeological Institute & Museum, the University of Connecticut, USA, the Maritime Archaeological Research Institute, S?dert?rn (MARIS), S?dert?rn University, Sweden, and the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Greece.
Although the project is centred on maritime archaeology, Black Sea M.A.P is interdisciplinary in scope with scientists from the respective organisations not only working on board the research vessels but collaborating on the analysis, interpretation and publication.
The Black Sea is considered to be one of the world’s finest underwater laboratories due to the low oxygen levels in its deeper waters which preserves artefacts better than any other marine environment.
The region in general is pivotal to the story of human development and global dispersal from the Lower Palaeolithic onwards.
In year two the focus will be on an extensive core sampling programme and more detailed investigation of data sets developed in the first year. In year three the team will conduct investigations of selected sites using state of the art technology including ROVs, AUVs and manned submersibles.
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