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Legacy of the Black Sea

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November 22 & 23, 1999 -- Archeologist Fred Hiebert of the University of Pennsylvania leads Radio Expeditions on a tour of ancient sites in and around the city of Sinop, a port in Turkey that geography has blessed with the finest harbor on the southern coast of the Black Sea. At the same time, the Sinop peninsula and its environs are cut off from the interior of Asia Minor by mountains. From pre-historic times, through periods of Greek and Roman colonization, as the seat of the Pontic Empire of Mithradates, and on into the Byzanatine and Ottoman eras, Sinop was a hub of sea-borne commerce.

Accompanied by Dr. Hiebert and his assistants, listen as NPR's Neal Conan crawls beneath the walls of the city to see remnants from the fifth century BC, takes a field walk through a site once occupied by a Roman tile kiln and climbs around a mound where ceramic bracelets were manufactured 5,000 years ago.

In part two, Radio Expeditions accompanies Dr. Robert Ballard and his team as they employ an intriguing combination of high and low technology devices to survey the floor of the Black Sea. In part, they are extending the land survey to see if the floor of Sinop's Harbor and the nearby waters will reveal ancient trade routes and the nature of the commerce.

But Dr. Ballard is also seeking to explore the theory of "Noah's Flood." Some scientists believe the waters of the Mediterranean broke through a bottleneck 7500 years ago, to flood the Black Sea, which was then a much smaller fresh water lake. The theory holds that this deluge was so spectacularly destructive that it survived in the memory of the peoples who were forced to flee from the area and formed the basis of the floods in the Sumerian saga of Gilgamesh and the Biblical story of Noah.

The scientists use remotely operated underwater vehicles to locate the drowned shoreline of the ancient fresh water lake 550 feet beneath the present surface. Listen as NPR's Neal Conan joins them in an attempt, as Dr. Ballard puts it, to "find Noah's house."

For more information visit the National Geographic Society Black Sea Expeditions web site.

Robert Ballard with Black Sea treasures Robert Ballard with Black Sea treasures
Copyright 1999
O. Louis Mazzatenta/National Geographic Society




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