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___________________________________________________________________May, 2001_________

            IN THE BLACK SEA
Tallahassee,  FL (AP) A ship set off on the Black Sea  about 1,500 years  ago, just  about  the time the Emperor Constantine moved the center of  the western    civilization    from   Rome    to   nearby Constantinople.  It  never   reached  another  port and wasn’t see again. Until now.
   A Florida  State  University  professor was part of a National Geographic Society  expedition that found the  ship buried deep  in  the  Black  Sea.  And for  reasons  archaeologists can only theorize about—reasons that may be linked to the  biblical great flood—the ship is completely in tact.
   “It  looks as if it had just got off  the dock,” said Cheryl Ward, a  nautical   archaeologist  with  the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Florida State.
   The ship and three others found buried  beneath the   muddy   surface  of   the  Black   Sea,   were perhaps  the best  preserved  ancient  shipwrecks ever discovered.   One had  its wooden mast  and stanchions  still  standing  about  1,000 feet below the   sea.   The  find,   reported   during   a   news conference  in  November in  Washington,   D.C., confirmed   scientists’  belief  that  there’s  a deep layer of the Black Sea that’s deprived of oxygen. Without    oxygen    to    support     wood-boring  mollusks or other  creatures  that  could  consume wood, anything buried there would remain intact.  Some scientists  believe the  presence of such an oxygen-free zone  supports  hypotheses  about  a  “Great   Flood” in  the  region,  such  as  the  one  detailed in the biblical story  of Noah.  The theory is that during such a  giant flood—as temperatures roses after the  last ice age—would  have  spilled 
the Mediterranean sea water into what was then a fresh  water  lake,  where  the  Black  Sea is.  The Mediterranean  sea  water  was much denser than the  lake’s  fresh  water  and  sank to the  bottom. The fresh water rose to the top.  This effect stifled oxygen exchange between the surface and deeper waters.
   The National  Geographic  team, led by  Robert Ballard  who in 1985  discovered the Titanic, also was    looking   into   the    possibility   of   human settlements  in  the  sea.   Such  settlements  could have   been   inundated   by   a  huge   flood.  The expedition,   which   took   place   in   September, thought it found evidence of such a settlement, but many  items  brought up  from the sea  have  been carbon-dated   and   found  to  be  only  a  couple hundred years old.
   “We  now  need to go  back to  the  Black  Sea and  expand our  efforts to prove or disprove that people    once     lived    on    land     that’s    now underwater,”   Ballard   said.     The   researchers, including  Ward,  plan  to return  to  the area  near Sinop,  Turkey,  next   year  and  work  about  90 miles  off   the   coast  of   Bulgaria.   Researchers believe   the  ships   were   used  to  carry   cargo, although  not  much  is  known  about  who  might have sailed them. 
   Carbon  dating of wood from one ship  showed the 45 ft. long  vessel  dates to between A.D. 410 and 520, Ward said.
   The  dead  zone  could  provide  historians  and archaeologists  with  the  types  of  material  never before  unearthed and could  open up whole  new ideas  about the time  period just  after the decline of  the  Roman  Empire.   Organic  goods  such as textiles, or  even  food  materials,  typically  lost to the ages, could be preserved.

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