Archaeologists have discovered what they believe is the oldest intact shipwreck in the world at the bottom of the Black Sea, where it seems to have remained undisturbed for more than 2,400 years.
The 23-meter boat, which was believed to have belonged to the ancient Greek, was discovered with its mast, rudders, and paddles, preserved at a depth of around 2 kilometers below the surface.
The shipwreck was found in deep in the Black Sea where the water is anoxic (oxygen-free), a characteristic that helps preserve organic material for thousands of years.
The ancient ship was found by a remote-controlled submarine piloted by British scientists.
The shipwreck was found lying on its side, around 50 miles off the coast of Bulgaria. The area where the sunken ship was found is known for its well-preserved shipwrecks.
Scientists used a small piece of the ancient shipwreck and carbon dated it, confirming it dates back to 400 BC, which makes it the oldest intact shipwreck ever discovered.
Speaking about the historical discovery, Jon Adams, the project’s chief scientist said the shipwreck still has its rudder, and tiller in position.
“A ship, surviving intact, from the Classical world, lying in over 2km of water, is something I would never have believed possible,” Adams said
“This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world,” he added.
Prior to this sensational find, ancient ships had mostly been found in fragments, with the oldest vessel dating back around 3,000 years.
Many of the ships that have been found in the area contain features that have previously only been seen in drawings or descriptions.
The shipwreck has also revealed important details like how far from the shore ancient Greek sailors could navigate.
It is believed that the shop most likely sank during a storm.
The ship most likely sank with between 15 to 25 sailors on board whose remains may lie hidden in the surrounding sediments, if they were not eaten by bacteria.
Scientists won’t be moving the ship. Adams explained that the shipwreck will be left at the bottom of the ocean as a project to raise it would be too expensive and would require taking the pint joints apart.
It is believed that the ship was used mostly for trade, although it may have been involved in ‘a little bit of raiding’ of coastal cities, explained Adams.
The ancient vessel is just one of 67 shipwrecks that have so far been found by researchers in the area.
Previous discoveries include ancient shipwrecks dating back more than 2,500 years and include vessels from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.
Due to the Black Sea’s limited supply of light and oxygen, where little life can survive, the shipwrecks have managed to remain in excellent condition.
The discovery was made thanks to the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (Black Sea MAP) which involves an international team of scientists led by the University of Southampton’s Centre for Maritime Archaeology.
Ed Parker, CEO of Black Sea MAP, noted that “Some of the ships we discovered had only been seen on murals and mosaics until this moment.”
“There’s one medieval trading vessel where the towers on the bow and stern are pretty much still there. It’s as if you are looking at a ship in a movie, with ropes still on the deck and carvings in the wood.”
“When I saw that ship, the excitement really started to mount – what we have found is truly unrivaled.”
Most of the ancient shipwrecks discovered so far are around 1,300 years old, but the oldest dates back to the 4th Century BC.