map of the delta in the antiquity
There is proof of the existence of the Black Sea and of the Danube Mouth at least 5-6 centuries BC. The proof consists of the fortress ruins that exist nowadays in the Danube Delta. In the past, in order to navigate along the west shore of the Black Sea and to reach Histria fortress(built in the 8th century BC), information was needed about the sea currents and reefs, so maps of the area were made. The first document regarding the area dates from the 5th century BC and belongs to Herodotus. A few hundred years later, Polibiu(203-120 BC), a Greek historian, mentions, in one of his books, about the existance of sand banks which, in the present time have become sea-shores.
The most important geographer, historian and ethnographer of the ancient times, Strabon, wrote important information about the Danube Delta in his masterpiece, “Geographia”. He stated that at the Istria Mouths there was a huge island, Peuce and around the island, up the river there were several small islands. According to Strabon the Danube had 7 Mouths, and the Peuce island was near “Gura Sfanta”(Holy Mouth), which nowadays is actually “Sfantul Gheorghe”(Saint George) branch.
In the first century DC, Plinius Secundus Caius (23-79 DC), an illustrious scientist of the roman era, makes a description of the Mouths of the Danube, and of course the Danube Delta. Plinius affirmed that the Danube had six Mouths: Peuce, Narucu Stoma (Narrow Mouth), Calon Stoma (Beautiful Mouth), Pseudo Stoma (Fake Mouth), Bareo Stoma (North Mouth) and Psilon Stoma(Thin Mouth). These Mouths were actually the Danube branches. Plinus also declared that, the branches were so big that the Sea changed and the water was drinkable.
The most complete information about the Danube Mouth belong to Ptolemaeus (90-168 DC). In his writing, he mentions that the Danube had 7 Mouths and describes them with accurate geographical coordinates. This information lead to the drawing of a schematic map of the Delta Danube.
Also in ancient times, other references to the Danube Delta were made by: Flavius Arrianus (95-175 DC), in “Periplus Ponti Euxinus” (Journey around the Black Sea) in which the Leuce island ( in the present named “Insula Serpilor”-Snake Island) is described. Pomponius Mela in the writing “De Chorographia”(The Description of Earth) presents the Mouths of the Danube.
From all the mentioned writings above, it results that at the beginning of the first millennium, the Danube Delta was composed by a number of river branches, lakes and islands, and at the points of contact with the Black Sea there were sand banks, above and below the sea-level.
The first document attesting the existence of Sulina village dates from 950, under the name Selina. In the 17th century, more exact maps regarding the coordinates are made. The first complete map of the Delta Danube dates from 1830. In 1857, after the setting up of the European Danube Committee, a map of the Danube branches is made.
A hydro-topographic map was made in the 60’s. The current official map was made in 2002. Due to the entropic and natural changes in the Delta, the map is to be updated every 10 years.