Black Sea

Bulgarian scientists have found the ancient shores of the Black Sea, currently deep beneath the waves, which they claim were the original shores about 7500 years ago, when the Black Sea at the time was just a fresh water lake, the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported on July 7 2011.

The team, led by Professor Petko Dimitrov of the Institute of Oceanology in Varna, which is part of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS), returned from an expedition aboard the research vessel Akademik, saying that they have found the ancient coastline close to the Cape of Emine. Archaeological evidence suggest that this particular spot was part of the ancient coastline, the BNT said.

The common theory of the creation of the Black Sea says that there was a massive deluge through the straits of Bosporus (modern Istanbul), where waters from the Mediterranean flooded into the lake. Once the Mediterranean Sea breached the Bosporus Strait, it irreversibly changed the history of the people in the area, as well as the flora and fauna.

In 1997, William Ryan and Walter Pitman published evidence that a massive flooding of the Black Sea occurred about 5600 BCE through the Bosporus. According to the theory, glacial melt-water had turned the Black and Caspian Seas into vast freshwater lakes draining into the Aegean Sea before that event. As glaciers retreated, some of the rivers emptying into the Black Sea declined in volume and changed course to drain into the North Sea.

The Black Sea is the world's largest meromictic basin where the deep waters do not mix with the upper layers of water that receive oxygen from the atmosphere, the report said. Subsequently, more than 90 per cent of the deeper Black Sea volume is anoxic water.

Part of the Bulgarian expedition was also Professor William Ryan, a geologist at Columbia University. "As a true scientist, until the results are finalised, I will reserve doubts about the theory of Professor Petko Dimitrov, that this part of the coastline was indeed affected by the flood and that this was the ancient shoreline," he said, cited by the BNT.

"I am still doubtful whether there is a small gap in his theory. All my observations support the theory, but we are still looking for any evidence which may disprove it," he said.

Scientists believe that if this theory proves true, they will be presented with a myriad of other questions, such as who lived there, the fate of the people in the area and how the region was affected in the aftermath.