“The bluest Black Sea in the world is mine” - this line from the song perfectly reflects the paradox of the name of one of the inner seas of the Atlantic basin. After all, the water in this sea is not black.
The name of the Black Sea, of course, has nothing to do with the color of the water in it. There is no consensus on the origin of this geographical name, but many hypotheses are put forward.
Different versions of the name etymology
According to one of the hypotheses, representatives of the ancient tribe of Meots called this sea the Black Sea. This tribe did not live on the shores of the Black Sea, but of the one that is now called the Azov Sea, but they were also familiar with the Black Sea. The surface of the Black Sea looks "black" (ie darker) when compared to the Sea of Azov. Thanks to this contrast, the sea became Black in the eyes of the Meots.
Strabo disagrees with this. According to this ancient Greek historian, the name of the Black Sea was given by his fellow tribesmen who colonized the shores. According to Strabo, this name was not associated with the color of the sea surface, it had a figurative meaning and reflected the difficulties faced by the Greeks. There were many difficulties: both sea storms and unfriendly local tribes - the Scythians and Taurus. The former name was not completely forgotten even in those days when the life of the Greek colonists improved, and they began to call the sea Pontos Euxinos (Hospitable Sea).
The name of the Black Sea may also be related to the effect it has on metals. At great depths, the water is saturated with hydrogen sulfide; in such conditions, an object made of any metal turns black. It is possible that this effect was known in antiquity.
Other names for the Black Sea
During the centuries-old history, various peoples fought with each other for the possession of the fertile lands on the shores of the Black Sea. For some time, one or another people managed to gain the upper hand, and then the sea was called by the name of this people. Therefore, in different historical periods, the sea was called Tauride, Cimmerian, Greek, Slavic, Armenian, Georgian.
Sometimes the sea was given names associated with the names of the cities that are located on its shores. For example, the famous Russian merchant and traveler Afanasy Nikitin, in his travel notes, known as "Voyage across the Three Seas", calls the sea Istanbul. And the equally famous Venetian traveler Marco Polo called the sea Sudak. This name is associated with Sudak - a trading city located at that time in the Crimea.
Whatever the origin of the modern name of the Black Sea, it has taken root and established itself.