Geochemical and sedimentological analyses and radionuclide (Pb-210 and Cs-137) dating of three cores from the Bosporus outlet area of the Black Sea, north of Istanbul, were conducted to assess the sources and history of heavy metal pollution. The sedimentary succession in the shelf core KD12-01 consists mainly of clay (49-80%) and silt (15-41%). Radionuclide dating of the core indicates that it consists of old sediments that are uncontaminated with heavy metals. In contrast, cores KD12-04 and KD12-07 recovered from -350 m and -304 mm in the upper slope area represent sediments consisting of silt and clay that were deposited since at least the last 120 years and 60 years, respectively. The latter core contains two mass-flow units represented by relatively old sedimentary material according to the low 21 Pb activity and relatively low heavy metal contents. The upper 40 and 48 cm of cores KD 12-04 and KD 12-07 represent sediments deposited since 1970s and 1980s that are significantly polluted with Cu, Ni, Zn, Mo, Pb and Cr, Cu, Co, Ni, Mo, Pb, Zn, respectively. However, high Pb and Cr concentrations with high TOC contents date back to early part of the 20th century in core KD 12-04. The geochemical data, together with the high Cs-137 concentrations of the contaminated sediments, strongly suggest that the pollution is mainly delivered to the western and north western Black Sea by the large European rivers, from there transported to the study area by the rim current, and deposited in the sediments under anoxic conditions. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.