A sunken trading ship believed to be from ancient Greece has been found in remarkable condition at the bottom of the Black Sea, The Guardian reports. Archaeologists say the vessel is more than 2400 years old, making it the world’s oldest intact shipwreck on record.
The mast is still upright, and the rudders and rowing benches have also remained in place. Members of the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP) found the ship a mile below the surface. According to the group, the Black Sea is considered “one of the world’s finest underwater laboratories” because it contains an anoxic (or unoxygenated) layer that helps preserve ancient artifacts and ships.
Jon Adams, MAP's principal investigator, said the discovery of such a well-preserved ship from the classical world was previously inconceivable. He said the find “ will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.” Previously, ships of this kind have only been seen on works of art, like ancient Greek pottery. The vessel is thought to be similar to the one painted on The Siren Vase, a work of pottery that dates back to about 480 BCE, which depicts the fictional Odysseus (from The Odyssey) fastened to the mast to resist the lure of the Sirens.
“There are ships down there that have never been seen apart from in murals and paintings and in books, and these are the first time they have been seen since they were afloat,” expedition CEO Edward Park told The Guardian.
The University of Southampton took a small piece of the wreckage and used carbon dating to confirm the vessel’s age. The MAP has also found more than 60 ships from the Classical, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods since the project launched in 2015.
[h/t The Guardian]