Want to learn about the best kept Black Sea mysteries and legends? Read the full article and see where is the Black Sea and why the Black Sea is called the Black Sea, and many more.
The Black Sea is one of the most mysterious seas in the world and one of the ancient ‘Seven Seas‘ from ancient Greek literature. If you want to learn all of the most intriguing Black Sea mysteries and legends, continue reading this article until the end. But first, let me answer a simple question. Where is the Black Sea located?
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Where Is The Black Sea?
The Black Sea is located to the east of the Balkans in Southeast Europe, between Europe and Asia. The Black Sea is bordered by Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. Now let’s get to the most interesting Black Sea mysteries and legends you probably didn’t know of.
9 Black Sea Mysteries And Legends You Didn’t Know
9. Why Is The Black Sea Called The Black Sea
One of the main Black Sea mysteries is the origin of its name. First mentioned in the 15th century, the name of the Black Sea is shrouded in legend. A possible explanation for its name is the violent and suddenly arising storms that it was famous for. The Turk navigators called it “Karadeniz” (“The Dark Sea of the North”), perhaps because of the many defeats they have suffered on this sea throughout history.
However, there is another possible explanation for the name “Black Sea”. The province of Wallachia (part of modern-day Romania) known as Valahia in the Romanian language, was inhabited by the ancestors of Romanians called Vlachs. Other variants used by the neighboring peoples to refer to Vlachs are Vlah, Vlas, Valah, Valach, Voloh, Maurovlah, Blac, Blákhos, Oláh, Ulah, etc.
Bulgarians had two names for their Vlach neighbors, namely Belivlasi (“white Romanians“, denominating the Aromanians from south of Danube and Dobruja) and Caravlasi or Cerni-vlasi (“black Romanians”, namely Romanians from north of Danube, from Wallachia).
The Ottoman Turks used Ak-Iflak and Kara-Iflak, to distinguish between the Vlachs living in the south from those in the north. Ak (meaning bright, white) denotes the Vlachs living in the south, and kara (meaning dark, black) refers to the ones from the north.
My hypothesis is that there is a high probability that the name “black” of the Black Sea actually comes from the population of the Vlachs (Blac, Blákhos) inhabiting its shores, namely the ancestors of Romanians today. This could also be the origin of the English word “black“. The name origin of the Black Sea is still one of the Black Sea mysteries.
8. The Two Black Seas
The great Romanian scientist Grigore Antipa said about the Black Sea that it is “unique”, in the sense that it represents, in fact, two superimposed seas, one alive and one dead. As the salinity of the sea increased (legend has it that it is due to the Biblical Flood, which is also related to the Black Sea), more resilient living species continued to live in the freshwater areas where The Danube flows in the Black Sea. The sea animals that could not adapt died and, in the absence of vertical currents, their bodies were deposited on the seabed and decomposed, which led to high consumption of oxygen.
Currently, there is no oxygen in the depths of the Black Sea, only hydrogen sulfide, which causes the bottom water to remain void of animal life, being inhabited only by anaerobic bacteria. In addition, the lack of oxygen in the depths also makes the ships sunk there perfectly preserved. There is no interaction between the two layers of the sea, hence the Black Sea is still made up of two different “seas”, one alive and one dead, which is one of the Black Sea mysteries.
7. The Black Sea Monster
One of the most interesting Black Sea mysteries is the monster living in its waters. It is believed that all the waters of the earth have a mythical master, called sorb in Romanian, a huge fish-like monster that often punishes the mortals for violating the laws of nature. Legend has it that the greatest sorb of all that have ever lived lurks in the waters of the Black Sea. In Romanian, sorb means whirlpool.
In the Middle Ages, the Russians and Romanians living at the mouth of the Danube told the Genoese that the Black Sea monster is often hidden in a whirlwind of water pulling to the bottom of the sea birds, ships, and sometimes even islands. At times, it is shrouded in a thick black mist and awaits its prey.
The Black Sea monster is believed to have shining scales as strong as steel, and as sharp as the best of swords. According to Romanian mythology, the reason for the great drought in Dobruja is the Black Sea monster coming out to the shore and swallowing the waters of the rivers and lakes nearby, as to punish the mortals for their sins. After swallowing the lake waters it raises the frogs up to the sky, which it then brings to the ground together with the rain. Locals say it looks like a huge fish, but in fact, no one has ever seen it.
But the Black Sea monster is not just a long-standing story. During the Second World War, around 1944, a Russian cruiser about 100 kilometers south of Crimea entered a black thick fog with green glowing flickering lights and disappeared forever. Soldiers from other ships thought that the cruiser had accidentally sunk or may have been shot down by a submarine, but the Black Sea fishermen knew who was to blame. There may have been right, as dozens, if not hundreds of boats and ships have been wrecked in this way over time, with all the unfortunates on board.
The legend says that, most often, the Black Sea monster wreaks havoc near the mouth of the Danube or near the Snake Island, where the monster has its lair. Some say that the Black Sea monster is just a myth but the locals believe in its existence. When they see black mists covering the waters they know that danger lurks in the calm sea waters, and this is one of the most intriguing Black Sea mysteries.
6. Black Sea Sirens
In Romanian mythology, sirens and newts are called “faraoance” and “faraoni“, creatures that live in the sea, without showing themselves during the weekdays, and come to the surface only on weekends, when, in the popular tradition, it is believed that and the sea rests. The folk legends of the Black Sea say that sirens come out to the surface of the water in groups, holding hands and singing, to enchant those who listen to them.
Those who hear the voice of the sirens can be enchanted by them, become mad, and throw themselves into the water, where they find their end. Only honest people can resist the spells of the sirens. These people remember their songs and can sing them when they return from the sea.
Black Sea sirens rarely come out of the water. They usually come ashore in the spring, when it is warmer, and play in the sand, with shells and gems collected from the seabed. If a man tries to get close to them, the sirens get scared and quickly return to the sea. At times, they forget and leave behind the precious gemstones they had with them on the shore. This is one of the oldest Black Sea mysteries and legends.
5. Poseidon’s Sanctuary
The great “reporters” of antiquity, Strabo, Ovid, and Ptolemy, all mention this temple in their writings, noting that the Black Sea Getae respected the area as a sacred place. According to Greek mythology, the goddess Thetis asked the god of the sea, Poseidon, to build an island in the Black Sea for her son Achilles, the hero of the Trojan War. First mentioned in 777 BC, the island is supposedly Snake Island. In his epic poem about the Trojan War, Arctinus of Miletus mentions that the remains of Patroclus and Achilles were brought by Thetis to this region and placed in a shrine for preservation and worship.
Other sources state that the true lord of the Snake Island was, in fact, the god Poseidon, the god of the sea, in whose honor an altar had been erected on the island. Excavations made in the 19th century have revealed the ruins of a very large square temple, with one side measuring 29.8 meters (98 feet). The large stone blocks of the walls had been made of white limestone and the building had many rooms, one of which was dedicated to sacrifices and offerings in honor of Poseidon, and another was intended for the rituals of the oracle. Whether this is true or not remains yet one of the best kept Black Sea mysteries.
4. Is the Black Sea The Resting Place of Noah’s Ark?
One of the most exciting Black Sea mysteries and legends is related to the Biblical Flood. Considering the proximity between Mount Ararat and the Black Sea, there are researchers who support the hypothesis that the archaeological remains of Noah’s Ark are located somewhere in the Black Sea. On the shores of the Black Sea, near the Russian city of Gelendzhik, there is another mountain called Ararat. People and animals that survived the Biblical Flood would have taken refuge in this area.
Even more, there has indeed been a large-scale flood around the Black Sea in the past, after which the sea has reached its current size. In the Old Testament, Mount Ararat is described as the endpoint of Noah’s journey in his ark. The description also contains an important detail that the Ararat mountain sinks into the so-called “Black Lake”, which some researchers and archaeologists claim to have been, in fact, the Black Sea.
The theory is also supported by scientific evidence regarding a large flood, which would have actually happened sometime at the end of the ice age. At that time, the Mediterranean Sea would have flowed over an isthmus that later became the Bosphorus-Dardanelles Strait. Other aspects that support this theory are the atypical bottom of the Black Sea, with terraces of beaches stretched far into the sea, as well as the very low salinity of the water.
Recent discoveries made by expert archaeologists at the bottom of the Black Sea revealed traces of cities swallowed by water, which again support the hypothesis of a great flood that occurred in ancient times. This is one of the less-known Black Sea mysteries.
3. The Vidra
Another mysterious Black Sea creature, Vidra also called Judas (Iuda in Romanian), is a sea spirit with supernatural powers who is said to live on the seabed. There, it has a huge underwater palace, of unparalleled beauty, where it lives and reigns over the whole Kingdom of Pisces. Vidra is believed to be like an underwater king of all fish in the Black Sea, that obey its rule. As for the Vidra’s mysterious palace, the legend says it has been built in the deepest location of the sea, a place also called Vidros.
Curiously, there actually is a lake called Vidra in the Carpathian Mountains, Romania, and the word vidra means otter, the water animal. Truth or tale, the Vidra’s legend remains one of the Black Sea mysteries, still told by the locals of the Black Seashore.
2. Black Sea Atlantis Connection
Another one of the popular Black Sea mysteries is that Atlantis was actually located in the Black Sea and that Snake Island was a small piece of the old continent that had sunk. With the help of underwater topography visualization, Google Ocean helped a British engineer explore the layer just below the bottom of the Black Sea, discovering a network of perfectly contoured streets that could only be made by human hands. British experts say more important evidence could be found off the coast of Romania.
In his “Dialogues“, Plato describes the flourishing civilization that inhabited Atlantis, with its capital at Poseidonia. The lost continent had a fertile plain, with cross canals and a not very high mountain, water ditches connected by tunnels and bridges, two springs – one with hot water and one with cold water – gushing from the main mountain, temples, barracks, a racecourse, gyms, and a majestic royal palace.
During its heyday, Atlantis was also a feared military force, with 1,200 warships and 10,000 battleships, all under the leadership of King Evenor. Together with his queen, Leucipe, they had a daughter named Clito, who according to legend became Poseidon’s wife. Poseidon gave his eldest son, Atlantis, control of the rich central region of Atlantis, which stretched over 160,000 km2. After great earthquakes and floods, Atlantis sank into the sea in one day, and since then it has been sought after by many historians and archaeologists.
One of these theories claims that Atlantis sank in the sea known to the Egyptians as “Siriath“, which corresponds to the Black Sea. In the area where Snake Island is located, Russian archaeologists have discovered underwater ruins, which they attribute to the Atlanteans. They claim that Snake Island is the last remnant of Atlantis and that in the distant past, the islanders were called “Blajini” meaning blessed (the Greeks called them “makaron” or happy) and were descendants of the Atlanteans. Fact of fiction, this remains one of the Black Sea mysteries.
1. Portal to Another World
One of the Black Sea mysteries is being a portal to other worlds. According to the inhabitants of Dobruja and Budjak, the Snake Island was a gateway to the afterlife, populated by beings with supernatural powers. Also there, on the island, it was believed that there lived the Sorb monster and the Fairy Tree, a huge tree that could reach to spread its branches onto the other world. In this old sense, the name Snake Island can actually refer to balaur or dragons, as the Ukrainian name of the place also suggests “Ostriv Zmiinyi” or the island of the zmei.
The ancient Greek name of the Snake Island was “Leuke“, or the white island, in Greek. In his famous work “Naturalis Historiae“, Pliny speaks of a population living where the Danube flows into the Black Sea, called “cattuzi“, meaning the captives, the enchanted, the charmed, or the cursed. In Romanian, the word “leuca” is used in an idiom meaning someone who is confused, stupid, or an idiot. Could this actually mean that the Snake Island is a gateway between two worlds or a portal to a different dimension? This remains one of the Black Sea mysteries.
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