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National Geographic TV special Sun, June 8 features grad student's project

Dan Davis with Robert Ballard in the Black Sea

Posted: June 5, 2008

Seven years ago, on his third trip to the Black Sea, Dr. Robert Ballard discovered a miraculously well-preserved Byzantine shipwreck. Ballard and his team work feverishly on their hunt for the Ghost Ships of the Black Sea. Airs Sunday June 8, 12 PM

Caught the underwater archaeology bug? Many UT Classics students have participated in shipwreck archaeology of various kinds throughout the Mediterranean and beyond. More info at the Institute for Exploration and Texas AMU Institute of Nautical Archaeology web sites!

(Yes, this is the Ballard of Titanic fame, who was actually on a Navy mission to find 2 downed nuclear submarines at the time... much is iffy about this story of the concatenation of archaeology, politics and the military ... more at the National Geographic Titanic site.)

Numerous shipwrecks found in the Black Sea are remarkably well preserved. The anoxic environment of the deep-sea floor is hostile to wood-devouring sea life; thus, such features as the high mast complete with knotted rope and timbers that look freshly cut have not been consumed, as is usually the case in ancient shipwrecks. Greek, Roman and Phoenician ships of the time of Homer have also been found in the Black Sea and promise to reveal patterns of trade in antiquity as well as the Byzantine era. High-tech Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), affectionately dubbed Hercules and Little Hercules, are used by Ballard's team to explore this extremely inhospitable environment.

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