Ballard Gets Green Light To Recover Black Sea Artefacts
By Staff Reporter of Fortean Times
Turkey’s Minister of Culture, Istemihan Talay, has granted the National Geographic Black Sea expedition a permit to recover artefacts from the seafloor, the Society announced September 19. The permit was presented to Society Executive Vice President Terry Garcia at a news conference attended by Turkish TV and print media in Ankara, on Tuesday. Alpay Tasinli, director-general of the General Directorate of Monuments and Museums of the Ministry of Culture, Terry Garcia, and chief archaeologist of the Black Sea project Fredrik Hiebert also participated. The announcement by the Turkish government comes on the heels of Robert Ballard’s discovery of what appears to be remnants of human habitation more than 300 feet (nearly 100 m) below the surface of the Black Sea, approximately 12 miles (18 km) off the Turkish shore. Evidence suggests these people must have thrived in a coastal setting before a catastrophic flood inundated the area many thousands of years ago. Ballard, famous for discovering the wreck of the Titanic, startled the world a week ago with the announcement that he had found the remains of a building with a hewn beam and wooden branches that formed the walls and roof of a structure most likely a house. His expedition also found and photographed stone tools, possibly a chisel or an axe, and ceramic storage vessels. Evidence of human settlement on the submerged shoreline gives credence to the theory that a massive flood believed to have been caused about 7,500 years ago when the Mediterranean broke through what is today the Bosphorus caused the people living around what was then a fresh-water lake to abandon their homes in a hurry. There has been conjecture that the rapidly rising water level may have been the basis for the story of the biblical flood. It is hoped that the remnants of the abandoned settlements will shed light on the ancient civilization. “We are pleased to be working closely with the Turkish government toward our mutual scientific goals. We are grateful for their prompt action on this matter,” said National Geographic Society President John Fahey. Ballard said he was delighted that the permit had been granted. “We can now move forward to the next phase of the expedition, which is the dating process to establish the age of the artefacts we recover. I thank the Minister of Culture and the Turkish government for their collaboration,” he said. The schedule for the recovery of any artefacts has not yet been set. The expedition is due to conclude at the end of September.