Why is the Black Sea called the Black Sea?
Since about 475 BCE, there are records of a body of water between the Mediterranean Sea and the Caucasus Mountains being referred to as the Black Sea. Following in the footsteps of the ancient Greeks who regarded it as inhospitable, mariners of this time believed that uttering the name of this sea was itself bad luck. And while it's common knowledge that sailors, perhaps more than anyone else, are a superstitious folk, the word 'black' here is likely not in reference to anything nefarious or evil.
There are instead two possible explanations for the sea being called black which historians have gone back and forth on for decades. The first is that the name is derived from the appearance of the water and the harsh weather conditions which move rapidly across the sea. Dark water combined with the dark skies of an oncoming storm makes for a pretty clear explanation for what it's called the Black Sea. While this is a simple and attractive explanation for the sea's etymology, it is actually not the most popular among experts.
It's widely regarded that the Black Sea gets its name from an ancient system of colour symbolism which references the four cardinal directions (north, south, east and west). Under this system, black is the designated colour for north, while red is south. Therefore, those who lived north of the Black Sea or south of the Red Sea in the Middle East could not be the one's who named these seas. From this it has been deduced that it must have been the First Persian Empire, existing from 522 BCE to 486 BCE, who first began calling it the Black Sea. Truly, exploring this ancient sea is a step back in time!