World's oldest intact shipwreck discovered in the Black Sea

Adjust Comment Print

Lost ancient treasures of gold, oil, wine and metalwork may be hidden in the world's oldest complete shipwreck which was discovered in the Black Sea by marine archaeologists.

The shipwreck design also bears a resemblance to the vessel depicted on the "Siren Vase", which dates back to around 480BC, now displayed at the British Museum.

This shipwreck is on the floor of the Black Sea.

"A ship, surviving intact, from the Classical world, lying in over two kilometres of water, is something I would never have believed possible", said Professor Jon Adams from the University of Southampton in southern England, the project's main investigator.

The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology project says it found the wreck off the Bulgarian coast at a depth of 2 kilometers, or 1.2 miles, in oxygen-free conditions that preserved its components.

"A small piece of the vessel has been carbon dated and it is confirmed as the oldest intact shipwreck known to mankind", the project said in a statement.

The ship, laying more than a mile below the surface of the Black Sea, appears to be of the same construction. In water that deep, oxygen is hard to come by, and because of that, so too are the organic processes that help drive decomposition.

The discovery was made as part of the Black Sea Archaeological Project, a year-long scientific investigation led by global institutions with the goal of exploring and understanding the way the Black Sea has changed and affected human civilisation.

The vase depicts a scene from The Odyssey, in which Odysseus is strapped to the mast as he passes the deadly sirens. We understand the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Expedition conference will be making some of the data available to the Wellcome Collection in Euston, London, and we've asked it for further info. And on Tuesday, European researchers revealed some stunning details about a period when Greek ships crossed the Bosporus strait, loaded with goods to trade and risking storms and natural disasters.

A documentary on the project will open on Tuesday at the British Museum. 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.