Exploring the Black Sea


Virtual Shipreck Explorer (photo by University of Hull)

Have you ever wanted to explore shipwreck without slipping on your wetsuit? This soon could be a reality not so far away.

The Black Sea holds the potential for a new form of experimental museum. This museum will not be any museum that has ever been imagined due to the fact that this museum could be 7,238 ft below sea level. This museum would allow people to virtually navigate a submersible that could allow people to investigate the site, as well as building a showcase of objects that could give greater insight into the past. The reasons for this museum to be imaged at such a depth is due to the fact that as objects are brought to the surface the pressure, oxygen, and UV cause them to change colour and become fragile. The current count for shipwrecks in this area are in the double digits and for explorers this means solving questions to the diverse nature of this region, but at the same time, this means that this type of museum could take decades before being  realized and experienced.

Around The Black Sea region is an incredible enclave of various cultures, languages and traditions. It is this particular region for centuries that has made the Black Sea a crossroads for cultural movements and trade movements. The Black Sea is significantly different than any other ocean because of the harsh weather conditions that keeps the anoxic water (without oxygen) moving around at a depth closer to the surface creating a protective barrier for the shipwrecks. This preserves anything and everything that descends to that layer including wood, clay, the cargo, and potentially the crews of the ships. The shipwrecks are from the 13th to 15th century B.C. surrounding the Greek Empire which gives the significant of what these finding could mean, seeing that there are only a few manuscripts depicting this period but little insight as to what some objects were actually used for without speculation.

Currently, the majority of the findings are on exhibition at The National Museum of History in Bulgaria and at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. The exhibitions at the Mystic Aquarium allow participants to dig for fossils and interact with animals on a more personal level.

Currently, virtual shipwreck exploration is becoming a reality through the Venus Project by the Dept of Computer Science at the University of Hull. The aim of this project is to digitally recreate Europe’s shipwrecks before they become eroded and therefore impossible to explore for real. As the project progresses, archaeologists and the public will be able to explore many more shipwrecks in this fashion. The participant interacts with a remote handset that enables the person to control the submarine. This form of application is perfect for the Black Sea due to the lack of decay that exists at these shipwrecks.

Stephen Kaye

2 responses to “Exploring the Black Sea

  1. How cool?! I love the idea of creating this new experience of under-water exploration. Being able to explore the depths of the ocean is something only scientist can do, but thanks to this museum it looks like anyone can interact.
    This brings up the topic that Tim constantly stresses: its not the collection that a museum starts with, it is a story. I think the ship wreck story provides the perfect framework for the aquatic museum and allows visitors to “collect” their own relics. This also ties back to the article we just read about the Churchill Museum that allows the visitors to literally create their own experience. They only read information they think is interesting, thus creating a personally based exhibition.
    I’m looking forward to exploring these venues!

  2. This would be an amazing museum experience. The amount of interaction would create an experience that visitors would never forget. I wonder how it would be set up with people allowed to investigate the site themselves. I know that there have been many issues surrounding this same topic in relation to Titanic. When the public (though mainly a portion of the public who were very wealthy and could afforded the experience) was allowed access in submerses to the Titanic wreckage, the ship was tremendously affected in a negative way. People where damaging the ship, taking artifacts that they were not support to, and leaving items that in turn damaged the ship. True, there are many concerns that complicate this particular example, but I just wonder how it will affect the ship wreaks and environment within the Black Sea.

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