these voyages, Ballard and his colleagues uncovered still
other artifacts that reveal much about other chapters of human
"We didn't see anything that was
similar to this," recalls Foley. "This really looked
these finds were four shipwrecks, almost perfectly preserved
in the cold, oxygen-less waters at the bottom of the Black
Sea, where timbers would be safe from decomposing bacteria
and wood-boring worms. Expedition member and nautical archeologist
Cheryl Ward recalls her first impressions of one of the wrecks.
was no rope anywhere on the ship, which to me was an indication
that this was probably much older than a couple of hundred
years," says Ward. "Looking at the way that the ship itself
was laid out, I started to think that this probably was about
the same age as the other three shipwrecks that had been found,
probably around 1500 years old."
contents of these amphorae - centuries-old containers
for transporting wine, olive oil and other special liquids
- could reveal much about the shipwrecks.
1500 years old is far from Biblical, little is known about
shipbuilding in the Black Sea during this period. Ward wants
to know which traditions these ships' builders were heir to-
local standards or older Greek ones passed down through generations.
Moreover, the ships' cargo could reveal much about the people
who sailed them. Were these ships full of goods to be traded,
were they passenger ferries, or warships?
be able to find all kinds of intimate details of the daily
life of the people who were operating this little vessel,"
addition to learning more about the ancients, Ward also appreciates
what these shipwrecks have to teach us about ourselves.
"We'd be able to find all kinds
of intimate details of the daily life of the people
who were operating this little vessel," says Ward.
of the things that modern people like to do is to think they're
more sophisticated than people in the past," she says. "But
every time we excavate a ship, what is proven is that the
people who lived thousands of years ago were solving the same
kind of problems and were just as clever as we are."
Black Sea and its cold, oxygen-poor depths preserved evidence
unlikely to have survived seven millennia anywhere else. The
faithful need no proof of Noah's Flood, and conclusive proof
of a flood is not evidence of God to the non-religious. Though
Ballard's expeditions have yet to prove that Neolithic people
witnessed the flooding of the Black Sea Basin 7,500 years
ago, the shipwrecks, the tools, garbage and other artifacts
have much to tell us about human history. Religious or not,
we are all awed by the lives our ancient ancestors might have
- - - - - - - - - - -
pages: | 1 | 2
| 3 | 4 |
Photo: National Geographic Society