Lost Worlds

Scientists journey into the Black Sea, a crossroads for human civilisation, seeking evidence to illuminate the past.


Professor Jon Adams and his team of scientists are on a four-year mission to understand how mankind evolved on a coastline long since swallowed by the rising waves of the Black Sea. Once a lake, its surface was as much as one hundred metres below its level today. The expedition wants to settle a fierce argument that has divided scientific opinion – how the Black Sea flooded. Was it gradually over thousands of years or a cataclysmic event that overwhelmed our ancestors? Surveying the distant seabed with hi-tech submersible robots, Adams hunts down clues hidden within the sediments and makes astonishing discoveries. Wrecks, near perfectly preserved, revealed for the first time since they sank sometimes more than a thousand years ago.

This quest will bring extraordinary science and a vibrant new history to international audiences young and old.


Thousands of years ago prehistoric people roamed the ancient shoreline of the Black Sea. That coast now lies submerged, buried deep within the mud of the seafloor. How and when did the Black Sea rise and what were the consequences for those living on the land at that time? How did Neolithic people adapt to these life changing events? Using industrial-scale and cutting edge science Adams seeks the answers that will finally settle the scientific argument: was the Black Sea the origin of the legendary flood story? To find out they analyse and model from the four tonnes of deep mud cores extricated from the sea bed.

Wrecks of the Black Sea

Maritime archaeologist Jon Adams came to fame as a key member of the team that raised the wreck of King Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose. Now the Black Sea presents him with a new and extraordinary opportunity. At depth, the water is almost devoid of oxygen with little bacteria able to live and decay organic remains. Adams' hi-tech submersible vehicles have revealed from the abyss a burial ground of perfectly preserved wrecks spread across thousands of kilometres of the seabed. Ghostly relics dating from the early days of the Byzantine Empire until the fall of the Ottoman domination. Finds that will help rewrite our historical knowledge of the empires trading across this restless sea over thousands of years.

Image Credit - Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz

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