Ancient Cultures
Beneath the Black Sea

Dr. Bob Ballard
Institute for Exploration

Friday, December 7th
Who is Robert Ballard?
The possibilities are dazzling:
"One should have a complete chronicle
of human history."

Dr. Robert Ballard is best known for his discovery of the Titanic, but more recently for his JASON PROJECT – linking classrooms to real-time research adventures. Ballard is a principal with National Geographic and is leading the archeological exploration of the depths of the Black Sea – with promises of finding undeteriorated artifacts dating back 7000 years. About 7,600 years ago, the Mediterranean Sea, swollen by melted glaciers, breached a natural dam separating it from the freshwater lake known today as the Black Sea. The deluge created an ecosystem unique in the world - an oxygenless abyss where shipwrecks could rest for thousands of years in chill, inert darkness uncorrupted by living creatures.

The Black Sea’s Neolithic catastrophe was pieced together by Columbia University marine geologists in their book Noah’s Flood.

The possible presence of old ships in near-mint condition on the Black Sea floor has made Noah’s Flood the starting point for perhaps the most ambitious project ever undertaken in the emerging field of deep-water archaeology.

In the past five years, project researchers working to identify the Black Sea trade routes of antiquity have studied scientific literature, history and classical texts such as the myth of Jason, whose quest for the Golden Fleece is believed to have made him the first of the ancient Greeks to enter the Black Sea.

Dr. Robert Ballard is a leading marine geologist, explorer and pioneer in the field of deep-water archaeology. He is a leader in the development of new underwater exploration technology. During his long career Ballard has led or participated in more than a hundred deep-sea expeditions. His scientific contributions include the first manned exploration of the Mid-Ocean Ridge, the discovery of the Galápagos Rift’s warm-water springs and their exotic animal communities, and the discovery of high-temperature “black smokers” in abyssal depths. He discovered the largest concentration of ancient Roman ships ever found in the deep sea, discovered the Titanic, the German battleship Bismarck, and the U.S.S. Yorktown.

Dr. Ballard founded the JASON Foundation for Education and is currently president of the Institute for Exploration in Mystic, Connecticut. In 1996 he received the National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Medal for extraordinary accomplishments in coaxing secrets from the world’s oceans and engaging students in the wonder of science.
Dr. Ballard received his Ph.D. in Marine Geology and Geophysics from the University of Rhode Island. Ballard is the author of 15 books, more than 50 scientific articles and is currently an Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society. He is Scientist Emeritus at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.