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Mysteries of the Deep

  Into the Deep:Deep Ocean Archeology
Photo of Pots Underwater
  "Shipwrecks are time capsules," says Ballard. "I think there's more history in the deep sea than all the museums in the world combined."

Scattered across the bottom of the world's oceans are remnants of ancient seafaring cultures. Until recently, many of these shipwrecks and artifacts were inaccessible to scientists. But by using high-tech remotely-operated vehicles, or ROVs, Bob Ballard is finding more and more sites, and opening up a new field of deep-ocean archeology. The immensity of the ocean makes searching for such artifacts a time-consuming and costly business. But as Ballard tells Alan, he has techniques for ferreting out these deep-sea treasures, and his intuitions have paid off. For example, following possible Mediterranean sailing routes between ancient cities like Carthage and Rome, Ballard was able to find jugs used to haul wine. The ships' crews, he speculates, decided to drink the wine for themselves, and tossed the empties overboard. Shipwrecks also found along these trade routes have forced historians to rethink the practices of these cultures, once thought to hug the coastline rather than cross the open seas.

Photo of Chandelier
The chandelier from the Titanic ballroom, as captured by the ROV Jason Junior.

Ballard's most celebrated archeological find is the shipwreck Titanic, sought in vain by so many before him. Knowing that the currents in the region ran north-south, Ballard chose to criss-cross east-west in the hopes of picking up the debris trail from the sinking ship. With just two days of search time remaining, his ROV Argos found the wreck. Again, Ballard's intuition and imagination had scored the jackpot.

Into the Deep: Part Four - A Scientific Revolution

For more on this topic, see the Web feature:
Searching for Noah's House

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The Uncivilized Engine of WarInto the Deep: The Early PioneersInto the Deep:Remote Control ExplorationInto the Deep:Deep Ocean ArcheologyInto the Deep: A Scientific Revolution Teaching guide Email Scientists Watch Online Web Links & More Contact Search Homepage