The Kitten Shipwreck and Ottoman Period Shipbuilding and Seafaring on the Western Black Sea

The Balkan Heritage Foundation and the Department of Archaeology at New Bulgarian University organized the first for 2022 BEMA Online Seminar  in Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology on Saturday, January 08, 2022. Guest lecturer  Dr. Kroum Batchvarov – Associate Professor of Maritime Archaeology at the University of Connecticut presented on the following topic: “The Kitten shipwreck located on the Western Black Sea coast and discuss shipbuilding and seafaring during the Ottoman period”.

Abstract:

In the 1980s, Bulgarian archaeologists from the Centre for Underwater Archaeology (CUA), located a shipwreck in the south bay of Kitten, Bulgaria and Professor Kalin Porozhanov undertook 3 seasons of partial excavations. Between 2000 and 2003, a joint expedition between the Institute of Nautical Archaeology based at Texas A&M University returned to the site and completed its excavation and documentation. This was the first wreck to be archaeologically studied along the Western Black Sea shore and remained the only one until the CUA excavation of the St. Nicholas Shipwreck, directed by Dr. Dragomir Garbov in 2015.

The Kitten shipwreck has about 40% of its structure preserved and this provided enough clues for a reliable reconstruction to be proposed. Although no cargo was present, the collection of artifacts offered us a picture of seafaring along the Bulgarian Black Sea shore in the second half of the 18th century that we could not have obtained from other sources. Plentiful evidence survives to demonstrate that at the time of sinking, the ship was operated and probably owned by Orthodox Christians. However, the most surprising among the finds are the remnants of a celestial navigation instrument, an octant or maybe even a sextant.

The data acquired on Ottoman period shipbuilding has been expanded now by the 30+ Ottoman wrecks found by the BSMAP to broaden our understanding of seafaring and shipbuilding in the Black Sea.