SOLIDARITY TO OUR COLLEGUES IN UKRAINE. The Black Sea project is a project of communication, academic dialogue and scientific exchange, to bring
scholars together beyond borders: Ukrainians, Russians, Greeks, Turks, Georgians, Bulgarians, Romanians, Moldavians.
There is no East and West. There is ONE WORLD. Let the War END
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The methodology of this interdisciplinary and interuniversity project during the period 2012-2015 was based in the research, analysis and study of primary archival sources. It is on archival research in the different Black Sea countries and in western European archives. Its prime methodology is historical; the study is approached in an interdisciplinary way, the axis of geography, transport, economics, politics, sociology, religion, anthropology, city-planning and architecture.

Since 2017, the project continues under the title "History of the Black Sea 18th-20th centuries" in the Centre of Maritime History of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies - FORTH. The processing of the collected archival material, the development of the historical statistical series and the publication of templates and books, along with the expansion of the work and collaborating members is an ongoing process. 

The project during 2012-2015 consisted of four gradual levels that form the four Work Packages. In the first level and Work Package, there was localization, collection and registration of archival data and concentration of published records and secondary bibliography in each port-city and maritime region that concern the economic –mainly commercial and maritime– development of the port-cities, along with the formation of their urban development in all six maritime regions. Moreover, research took place on the study of the effect of this dynamic commercial opening in the formation of port and sea transport systems in every region and the development of their linkages with the Mediterranean and Atlantic markets.

In the second level and Work Package there was processing of collected material and construction of a data-base according to each port city and maritime region. This stage of the work was instrumental for the whole research. After the collection of the material from all different languages and sources the task was to process it –translation, taxonomy and homogenization– and feed the material in the interconnected data-bases. Self-evident was that the construction of an appropriate database(s) will precede this stage. The aim of this Work Package was to combine the archival material from many countries and many languages in a database that would function according to a) port-city b) maritime region and c) linkages with Mediterranean and Atlantic port cities.

In the third level and Work Package parallel to the on-going research workshops and conferences took place to prepare and present the results. Meetings among the research groups were vital for the communication and exchange of views during the time of the research. Three workshops of certain research groups have taken place: the first in Odessa (Ukraine), the second in Constanza (Bulgaria) and the third in Istanbul (Turkey).  In the meantime the members of the groupsp presented individually the on-going research in international conferences of Social and Economic History, Slavic and Ottoman Studies.

In the final fourth level and Work Package, members of the research groups 1) co-authored six collective volumes in English, 2) two monographs, one for the port-city of Odessa and the other on the land and sea transport systems of the port-cities of the Black Sea, 3) one Ph.D. thesis on subjects relating to the research 4) thematic maps for the area 
Within each level and Work Package as described above research took place in five maritime regions.

One distinguishes five maritime regions in the Black Sea that form the main five port systems that developed to serve the needs of the sea transport of short and long distances. Starting from west to the east: the first maritime region is the one of southwest Black Sea (present-day Bulgaria), with main ports Varna and Burgas and secondary ports Pomorie, Sozopol, and Michurin. The second maritime region is that of the northeast Black Sea (present day Rοmania) and includes mainly the ports of the Danube, Galatz and Braila, and Constanța. The third maritime region covers the (present day) port-cities of the northern coast of the Black Sea, Odessa, Nikolayev (Mykolaiv) and Kherson and the Crimean port-cities, Eupatoria, Sevastopol and Theodosia (Feodosiya). The fourth maritime region is that of the East coast (divided presently between Ukraine and Russia) that includes mainly the port-cities of Kerch, Berdyansk, Mariupol, Taganrog, Rostov to the eastern coast of the Black Sea includes the port-cities of Novorossiysk and Batoum. The sixth maritime region includes the southern Black Sea ports Trebizond, Samsun,  and Sinop.

In each of the above maritime regions and in each of the Work Packages research took place according to the following six axes:

  1. The Black Sea as a unit of research. Marine environment and six port systems
  2. Six maritime regions. Economic and social development of twenty-four port-cities.
  3. The form of the cities. City-planning and architecture
  4. Macro-analysis. Formation of macro-economic statistical series. Comparison with world economy.
  5. Micro-analysis. Entrepreneurial elites and major Greek business families,
  6. Linkages with the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

Brief analysis of the above six axes follows:

  1. The Black Sea as a unit of research. Marine environment and six port systems
    a)The structure of the sea. Analysis of marine environment, geomorphology/oceanography, rivers, geopolitical and nautical maps. The geomorphology of the environment and the large rivers that lead to the Black Sea determined to a large extent the choice of the establishment of the port cities.
    b)Port and transport systems. In this part there will be the identification of the port systems and infrastructure, of the cabotage and peripheral short-sea transport systems as well as that of fishing. The formation of the port infrastructure will be examined diachronically, from its very inception in the early nineteenth century to its establishment in the early twentieth century in a comparative forward perspective that with the beginning of the twenty-first century.
  2. Economic and social development of twenty-two port-cities:
    Varna, Burgas, Constanța, Braila, Galatz, Odessa, Nikolayev, Kherson, Eupatoria, Sevastopol, Theodosia, Kerch, Berdyansk, Mariupol, Taganrog, Rostov, Novorossiysk, Batoum, Trebizond, Samsun, and Sinop.
    For every city the following archival material will be gathered:
    a) Demographical statistics and analyses on the composition of population (ethnic minorities, immigration etc.)
    b) Social organization; Ethnic minorities and local population; Identification of churches/synagogues/mosques, use of ecclesiastical archives of orthodox churches for the identification and registration of Greek communities. Registration of local and foreign entrepreneurs (merchants and ship-owners) involved in the country’s foreign trade. Although the focus will be on the Greeks, all ethnic/religious minorities, Armenians, Jews, Muslims and central-western Europeans (Austrian, Polish, German, Italian, English etc.) will be reviewed and included to give an overall and comparative perspective.
    c) Development of infrastructure, roads, railways, ports, theatres, schools etc.
    d) Aggregate and analytical data on trade, shipping, banks, insurance companies and industry.
  3. 3)The form of the port-cities. City-planning and architecture
    The formation of the new port-cities meant central governmental intervention and planning. Identification of the institutional framework of each country, the port-cities belong to. Identification of the residential and working areas of the entrepreneurial elites and comparison of the architectural form of their homes in the selected port-cities.
  4. Macro-analysis. Formation of macro-economic statistical series. Comparison with world economy.
    The analysis will take a macro-view that will deal with the overall examination and will form statistical series from the eighteenth century to the twentieth century of population growth, wages, agricultural production, and particularly grain production and exports from the whole region, shipping and sea transport along with series of freight rates for sea transport, prices and indices of regional convergence, interlinkages with the main Mediterranean and North European ports in order to compare the Black Sea region with other ones, like for example with the Baltic, the north Atlantic or the South-east Asian one.
  5. Micro-analysis. Entrepreneurial elites and major Greek family businessesIdentification of the leading entrepreneurial groups in each port-city and intra-regional comparison of the mainly family networks in the various Black Sea port-cities with Western Europe in Mediterranean and Atlantic ports. Archival research for the constructions of family business histories with international entrepreneurial activities.
  6. Linkages with the Mediterranean and the Atlantic The linkages will be traced by research in the shipping and trade (shipping statistics) and lists of merchants/ship-owners/shipping agents in the main Mediterranean and northern European Atlantic port-cities.
    Identification of entrepreneurial linkages in the Eastern Mediterranean will mainly take place with the largest eastern Mediterranean port-city, Istanbul, which was really the main economic and maritime intelligence center of all Black Sea ports. Linkages will also be traced with the main Italian port-cities (Trieste, Livorno and Genoa) and the main French port-city (Marseilles). Linkages will also be traced with Atlantic port-cities of northern Europe, those of Britain (mainly Liverpool and London), of the Netherlands (Amsterdam and Rotterdam) and Germany (Hamburg). Immigration from Black Sea ports will also be traced in north American (New York) and South American ports (Buenos Aires).

The essence of this project is international co-operation, the creation of working networks of communication with the Universities and Research Centers of Black Sea countries and the collective and organized academic opening in an academic area almost inaccessible to the independent researcher. Moreover, the project aims at the renewal of the methodological analytical tools and in the internationalization of Greek historical studies. The communication with the universities and research institutes of the Black Sea countries was and remains difficult. The reasons lie on the lack of efficient knowledge of the national languages or the lack of a common language of communication in a world that is nationally and politically fragmented.
One of the important contributions of this project is that it brings together the “forces” of peripheral Greek Universities and Research Institutes in humanities, social sciences and technical sciences and aims in the development of an extravert academic policy with the countries of Eastern Europe situated around the Black Sea. Greece has a comparative advantage from the other E.U. countries in its close relations and communications with this part of the world for historical reasons. The ultimate goal is the transformation of some Departments of History of Greek Universities to centers of production of interdisciplinary knowledge in collaboration with the university and research institutions of the neighboring eastern European countries.