The modern research vessel with 8552 gross tonnage, that was delivered from yard in 2011 has length of 98 metres and breadth of 20 metres. The vessel is mainly used for underwater construction work and as a support vessel in underwater operations.
During the third research season, the programme for sediments’ drilling was concluded. The focus was on the collection of samples from the coastal areas with a high potential for prehistoric occupation in the bays of Sozopol and cape Urdoviza as well as near the paleochannels of the rivers Ropotamo and Veleka. For the whole period of the expedition there were collected overall around 200 sediment samples from depths between 30 m and 350 m, which were sent for analyses in the laboratory of the National Oceanography Center at the University of Southampton. The complete data interpretation will provide information to research questions such as which areas have been inundated with the sea level rise, at what time as well as how these events impacted on the Black sea coastal inhabitants in the past.
In 2017 the deepwater work with remote operated vehicles (ROV-s) continued on geophysical survey, three-dimensional photogrammetry, and high-resolution photo and video capturing at over 2000 metres depth. Through the most hi-tech devices used during the three seasons of the project, there were documented the hulls of over 80 shipwrecks. They can be put together into two groups – shipwrecks in the south Black Sea waters, and the second group in the north waters - registered earlier during the “Southstream” project in 2014 but surveyed and documented during the current maritime archaeology project. The oldest ship from the 5th century BCE -the period of the Greek colonization of the Black Sea is discovered at 1700 m depth. Two extremely well-preserved ships dated to the Roman period in the 3rd-4th century AD were discovered at 2000 m depth. Medieval ship dated back to the 10th century discovered at depth of over 90 m. The highest number of the shipwrecks discovered during the expedition dated to the Ottoman period (17th -19th century).
The high state of preservation for the documented wooden hulls of the ships is unknown anywhere in the world. The wrecks survive in such good condition because at a certain depth the Black Sea has anoxic, or oxygen-free, conditions preventing decay.
Amphorae and plates (most full with content) - cargo of merchantman ships were spread around their sunken wooden timbers. For obtaining wider data, some pots and wooden timbers were carefully lifted up from the bottom through the versatile work class ROV “Reach Subsea”. The content of the pots was sent for analysis and some are already to be displayed in museums.
A new aspect of the third season was the close-up investigation of the 10th century shipwreck. It was executed by the team led by Prof. Jon Adams and the underwater cameraman Roberto Rinaldi along with two support divers who dived with closed circuit underwater breathing apparatus at depth of over 90 m.
In 2017 for the first time on board were used two three-dimensional printers for the manufacture of small-scale models of the Black Sea shipwrecks based on the preliminary created digital 3D models. The printed models facilitated the scientists in the study of the small scaled details of the ship hulls.
Students from the United Kingdom experienced the scientific methods on aboard the Havila Subsea, another part of the MAP Black Sea. Guiding by the scientists and specialists, they took part in every research activity – collection of sediment samples, 3D photogrammetry and printing, inspection and registration of shipwrecks. The students attended to talks related to the Bulgarian history and archaeology as wells as geophysical and remote sensing methods in archaeology.
The team of the M.A.P. Black Sea intend to present complete results from the research in Scientific Conference in the end of 2018.