The Black Sea – Show #4
Over the past several years, researchers have been studying the ancient and underwater shoreline of the Black Sea, upon realizing the area was a fertile valley and very much inhabited prior to the collapse of the Bosporus, once a natural dam. Survivors were scattered in all directions.
Today, the archaeological museum at Varna displays a group of tombs, from which were retrieved over 3,000 gold objects dating back nearly 8,000 years. The various communities that called this place home were quite advanced for living in an era we typically refer to as “the Stone Age”.
Artefacts have linked Sinop to Black Sea sites north in Crimea and west in Bulgaria, as well as to Troy, the fable Aegean city that guarded the entrance to the Black Sea.
In this episode, we will ably demonstrate how our ancestors living recently in The Stone Age (notwithstanding having the expertise and technology to create and move massive blocks of granite) were actually quite advanced in metallurgy as well, despite existing millennia before the advent of iron. Today, the archaeological museum at Varna in Turkey displays a group of tombs from which were retrieved over 3,000 gold objects dating back nearly 8,000 years. They were not club-wielding thugs.
Interestingly, in terms of recent history, the Bosporus Dam finally collapsed and flooded the Black Sea valley 8,000 years ago, which leads to a very enlightening discussion concerning the “great” flood and Noah, for instance, not to mention his much earlier Sumerian predecessor, Utnapishtim, as contained in the inspirational Epic of Gilgamesh, who we find was the actual hero of mankind. Mixed into our particular story is, of course, ancient Troy and the Trojans of lore.
Therefore, not only in the Black Sea but also on land surrounding it, we find plenty to discuss:
- Traditional history: Hittites, the Anatolian plain and Catalhoyuk
- Legendary history: The Trojans, Aeneus and Brutus
- Mythological history: Dardanus, Zeus and Electra (daughter of Atlas)
- Alternative history: Arcadia, Poussin, and The Da Vinci Code
The phrase “Et in Arcadia ego” goes back to a 1647 painting by Nicolas Poussin, also known as “The Arcadian shepherds”, where it appears as an inscription on a tomb. This phrase is said to be an anagram which, when the letters are rearranged, spells out the message “I tego arcanum dei”, which in English translates loosely to “I conceal the secrets of god”. This is the meaning given in Baigent and Leigh’s book “Holy Blood, Holy Grail“, which is the main inspiration for Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”. Arcadia, the home of Dardanus, is always depicted as an idyllic paradise. As well, one of the birth-places reported for Zeus is Mount Lycaeum in Arcadia.
Though it remains an active subject of hotly contested debate among archaeologists, the Mediterranean’s rising waters did spill over the Bosporus Straits to form the Black Sea, and some researchers believe this accounts for the ancient Near Eastern flood stories. The date of 8,000 years ago was arrived at by testing fresh water molluscs (via core-drilling) which were found in a layer under salt water molluscs. In the continuing search for evidence, the ancient shoreline of the freshwater lake has been mapped and underwater archaeological sites 12 miles off the coast of Turkey have been located. This coincides with the dates historians say Europe was settled, and the introduction of “the list of suddenlies” into the human record.
Long before the arrival of Alexander The Great and his documented tribute to Achilles – and according to his contemporary Greek historians – after Troy was sacked, its vanquished king, Aeneus, had a grandson, Brutus. He became the first King of The Britons. In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae, Brutus was himself exiled from Italy for the accidental killing of his biological father Silvius. Then, while In exile, he liberated a group of Trojans living in slavery in Greece and led his people westward – eventually settling on the island of Albion. This name is from the Proto-Indo-European root that denotes both “white” and “mountain”, but the Romans took it as connected with albus (white), in reference to the chalk-white cliffs of Dover.