Worlds oldest intact shipwreck found in Black Sea

Saul Bowman
October 26, 2018

The world's oldest intact shipwreck has been discovered more than a mile beneath the waves of the Black Sea, archaeologists believe.

The 75-foot-ship - which has been untouched for more than 2,400 years - has been well preserved from lack of oxygen.

There are two reasons the ship has been found in such good shape: firstly, it sunk into anoxic waters - with depleted levels of the oxygen that would otherwise have caused the wreck to deteriorate over the years.

Somewhere in The British Museum's vault is the Siren Vase-an ancient Greek stamnos depicting the ship of Odysseus passing the Sirens.

The discovery of the intact Greek ship is the icing on the cake for the Black Sea MAP, which has been exploring the Black Sea for the past three years. 1299-1920), the spot was a deeper anchorage for trading vessels.

The shipwreck has also revealed just how far from shore ancient Greek traders ventured, showing they travelled across the sea, in open water, and did not just sail along the coast.


Helen Farr who was on the expedition told the BBC that the discovery was like "another world".

"This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world", Jon Adams, the Black Sea MAP's principal investigator, said in a news release.

One such ship has now been discovered nearly completely intact at the bottom of the Black Sea at a depth of 1.2 miles, where oxygen levels are so low that marine life is virtually nonexistent.

It was one of 60 wrecks uncovered by a survey spanning 2,000 square kilometres using remote-controlled underwaters cameras.

"Never before have the Bulgarian waters of the Black Sea been investigated on this scale", the project outline says.

In addition to the relatively-undisturbed Greek merchant vessel, the team discovered more than six dozen other shipwrecks, varying in age from the 17th century to the early 19th century. That includes a 17th-century raiding fleet launched by the Cossacks, a people who had by that time settled north of the Black Sea, near the border of modern Russian Federation and Ukraine. More funding is needed to continue exploring the wreck and scientists are interested because the wreck can shed light on technology, trade, and movement in the area.

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