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Why is this 2,500 year old shipwreck so well-preserved? - Helen Farr and Jon Adams

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In 2017, researchers off the Bulgarian coast discovered the oldest intact shipwreck ever found. This ancient Greek vessel was not only nearly 2,500 years old, but was just one of 65 shipwrecks found at the bottom of the Black Sea in remarkable condition. So, why does the Black Sea contain so many well-preserved shipwrecks? Helen Farr and Jon Adams dive into the depths of the unique body of water.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Jon Adams, Helen Farr
  • Director Yuriy Polyashko
  • Narrator Pen-Pen Chen
  • Storyboard Artist Daniila Kolot, Dmytro Novitskyi
  • Animator Ihor Kostin
  • Sound Designer Stepan Vasylchenko
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Cella Wright
  • Content Associate Abdallah Ewis
  • Script Editor Iseult Gillespie
  • Fact-Checker Jennifer Nam
  • See more creators
Additional Resources for you to Explore
The Black Sea Maritime Archaeological Project, funded by the Julia and Hans Rausing Trust, was a groundbreaking collaborative archaeological project led by the University of Southampton and the Centre for Underwater Archaeology, Bulgaria. It’s aim was to study the changing marine environment of the Black Sea through the Holocene, the last 10,000 years of human history. This included an investigation of sea-level rise and submerged landscapes alongside other forms of underwater cultural heritage in the Black Sea basin.

Scientists surveyed the seabed using remote sensing and took cores to better understand the changing nature of the basin as it reconnected to the Mediterranean Sea after the last Ice Age. Marine geophysical techniques, including side scan sonar, also highlighted ancient shipwrecks preserved on the seabed. Those that were too deep to be reached by divers were investigated with cutting-edge marine technology, including remote operated vehicles that surveyed, photographed, and sampled the ships.

The shipwrecks discovered revealed previously unknown information about the ancient world: technology, trade routes and seafaring communities that changed our understanding of the past.

Maritime Archaeologists work hard to preserve shipwrecks and protect them for future generations. Whilst the ships in the depths of the Black Sea were well preserved and protected, many shipwreck sites have been destroyed by looters and treasure hunters. The UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage adopted in 2001, encourages States to better protect their submerged cultural heritage, Bulgaria was one of the first signatories.

You can learn more about the Black Sea Maritime Archaeological project through their website: Black Sea M.A.P – Maritime Archaeology Project (blackseamap.com)

STEM education materials and short films are available here: https://www.stem.org.uk/resources/collection/464154/black-sea-maritime-archaeology-project

Resources for further study:

Read this article from the National Geographic.
Listen to Dan Snow’s History Hit.
Watch "Journey Into The Abyss - Black Sea Shipwrecks."


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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Jon Adams, Helen Farr
  • Director Yuriy Polyashko
  • Narrator Pen-Pen Chen
  • Storyboard Artist Daniila Kolot, Dmytro Novitskyi
  • Animator Ihor Kostin
  • Sound Designer Stepan Vasylchenko
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Cella Wright
  • Content Associate Abdallah Ewis
  • Script Editor Iseult Gillespie
  • Fact-Checker Jennifer Nam
  • See more creators

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