Why Is The Black Sea Called So?

The blue waters of the Black Sea may appear black during storms leading to its name.

The Black Sea sometimes referred to as the Euxine Sea, is a 168,500 square mile water body that is classified as one of the Atlantic Ocean's marginal seas. The Black Sea is one of Europe's most significant drainage features with several of the most well-known rivers in the world, such as the Danube and the Dniester, draining into it. The sea is relatively deep with the deepest point being 7,257 feet. Six countries border the Black Sea, namely Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, and Turkey with many prominent cities along the coast such as Istanbul, Burgas, and Sochi. The Black Sea is surrounded by several mountains such as the Crimean Mountains, the Strandzha, and the Caucasus Mountains.

Historical Names of the Black Sea

Throughout its history, the Black Sea was referred to as the Inhospitable Sea, particularly by the Ancient Greeks. The Ancient Greeks, according to Strabo's Geographica, referred to the sea as inhospitable due to the difficulty in navigating its waters. Another possible reason why the name was selected was that savage tribes lived along the Black Sea shoreline. Due to the superstitious nature of Ancient Greek societies, the name was later changed to the Hospitable Sea.

Theories for the Naming of the Black Sea


According to several experts, the most famous being Rüdiger Schmitt, the name Black Sea has its origins from the Greek term Póntos Áxeinos. The term Áxeinos has its roots in the Iranian language from the word axšaina which referred to dark colored objects. The Greeks adopted the term and altered it to suit their language. The sea is also referred to as the Black Sea in other languages such as Ottoman Turkish where it is referred to as Bahr-e Siyah.

Black Coloration

It is often suggested that the name, the Black Sea, was in reference to the color of the water. The main reason why the theory was widely believed was that during winter, violent storms rocked the sea and made the water turn black. Sailors subsequently referred to it as the Black Sea. The water's black color was also believed to be because of the objects that were thrown into the sea. People discovered several of the objects covered in black sludge which is a probable explanation for choosing the name.

Remains of the Dead Beneath Its Waters

Black is a color usually associated with death, and one possible explanation for the sea's name is that the remains of those who perished within its waters can still be found along the seabed. Apart from human remains, the wreckages of several ships have been located on the seabed. The grim features situated along its floor may have contributed to the selection of the name.

Compass Points

One of the most famous theories that try to explain the origin of the name is that black refers to North on the compass. The works of Herodotus are usually cited as the primary evidence in support of this theory. During ancient times, it was common to use colors in place of the cardinal points. One of the reasons why the hypothesis was not wholly accepted was because only people who lived to the south of the sea could have named it the Black Sea. Those who lived on its northern shores would have considered it a southern sea.

Economic Significance of the Black Sea

The Black Sea provides a host of benefits to the nations around it such as providing fishing grounds, particularly for anchovies. The Black Sea is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region.


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