An international team of archaeologists and explorers is preparing to set sail on a reed boat, hoping to prove that Greek аrgonauts were not the first to trade on the Black Sea.
Crew members are adding the final touches to the 14-metre Abora IV at Beloslav lake near Varna, Bulgaria.
Its unique design is inspired by old Egyptian paintings and constructed using only totora reed and wood.
The reeds were harvested near Lake Titikaka in Bolivia almost a year ago, tied into huge rolls and transported to Bulgaria earlier this year.
For the past ten weeks, bundles of reeds have been tied with ropes to create the boat's body.
The purpose of the expedition is to sail the routes that connected the Mediterranean with the Black Sea in ancient times, the time of the Chalcolithic necropolis of Varna.
“We have new archaeological evidence that, long before the Greek people, possibly people from the Minoan civilisation, also from Egypt and very likely also people from the Varna culture sailed these waterways six thousand years ago and this is what archaeologists are always doubting,” said Dominique Goеrlitz, German archaeologist and explorer.
The Abora IV’s 12-strong crew includes volunteers from Germany, the USA, Bulgaria, Bolivia, the Netherlands.
They will live in two reed huts added on top of the main deck.
Teodor Rokov, from the Varna Museum of Archaeology, said: “The idea is to show how people of different backgrounds, cultures, and mentalities can coexist and work together.
“The motto of this journey is ‘Voyage for Peace’ because we can see that the current political situation in the Black Sea is strained, and this reed ship could be a perfect ambassador of peace across all seas."
The planned expedition comes on the 50th anniversary of the reed boat trip in which Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl sailed across the Atlantic.
However, despite the similarities with ancient vessels the Abora IV has a huge advantage – it is equipped with up-to-date satellite and radio communication devices.
Goеrlitz plans to set sail from Varna through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, then through the Aegean Sea to Athens.
From there, the manoeuvrability of the raft will be demonstrated through Greek island hopping to Crete, before heading for the Egyptian port city of Alexandria.
He hopes to demonstrate that Egyptian merchants used such vessels to travel far and wide, and were not confined to land.
The Abora IV will have to stay in the harbour in Beloslav for several days to soak before it departs on its trip.