This mixing of fresh and salt water created distinct layers in the Black Sea. Adams pointed out, “The oxygen drops to zero below 150 meters [492 feet], which is ideal for the preservation of organic materials.” And this absence of oxygen has had a massive impact on the condition of shipwrecks in the region, as the Black Sea MAP scientists discovered.
The lack of oxygen has meant that any vessels the Black Sea that came to grief and sank to the bottom have remained in an extraordinarily good state of preservation. Even wooden vessels have remained shipshape, complete with ropes, rigging and intricate carvings all in place. Remarkably, even after many hundreds of years, chisel gouges in planks of wood can be seen on the wrecks.
You can get a good idea of just how well many ships have been preserved from the vessel pictured here. It is thought to date from between the 16th and 18th centuries, so may have sunk almost 500 years ago. The ship plied its trade for the Ottoman Empire, based in what is now modern-day Turkey, which spanned North Africa, Central Europe and the Middle East. The wreck was found at a depth of around 1,000 feet, where there is virtually no oxygen in the water.