BLACK SEA 1998
In July, 1998, a team led by David Mindell of MIT and IFE conducted an undersea archaeological survey of the area surrounding the city of Sinop, Turkey in the Black Sea. Preliminary results indicate significant archaeological data as well as raising a host of new questions for future surveys. This survey focused on relatively shallow water, between 50 and 80M depth (which defines a rather large area outside the port of Sinop). In 1999 plans are to return to the site with a larger ship and a specialized deep search system and to begin surveying in very deep water, down to 2000M. Also in 1999 a robotic vehicle will make video inspections of the sonar targets identified during this survey.
Milestones & Statistics
survey designed specifically to mesh with an adjacent land survey.
This survey was designed and undertaken in conjunction with a series of land surveys conducted concurrently by Fred Hiebert's group at the University of Pennsylvania. By studying, in a systematic manner, the distribution of archaeological data simultaneously on land and at sea, we hope to create more a complete picture of ancient trade, manufacturing, agriculture and society in Sinop and the Black Sea than would be achieved by studying land and seafloor in isolation.
The land area of Sinop is archaeologically rich; in some places pottery literally saturates the soil. Here a Roman bridge seems to head off into the ocean, the road it connected to having eroded away.
The technology used were 150khz and 600khz "SeaScan" side-scan sonars provided by Marine Sonics Technology Limited (Gloucester, Virginia), combined with differential GPS accurate to about 3M. Most survey lines were conducted with the 150kHz sonar, with the 600 used for imaging. The survey was run from the Orkoz II, a local fishing vessel with an excellent crew and a first-rate cook.
Below left, Marty Wilcox and Sarah Webster prepare the sonar fish for launching. We all spent many days glued to the screen of a small laptop which displayed the sonar data as it came in. All data was recorded digitally on computer (sonar), plotted by hand (positions), and logged in a book (operations and comments). The triple redundancy ensures against data loss but also helps with planning the survey and greatly eases finding data afterward.
Much of the data is still being processed, but the image on the left appears to be a 19th-century sailing vessel, and one can clearly see a number of guns which have been scattered around the seafloor with great violence. Did we find one of the ships from the Turkish fleet which was destroyed by the Russians in 1853? This was the first use of exploding shells in combat, and influenced the European powers to consider ironclad ships to protect against them.