The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project states that the intact shipwreck was discovered at a depth of more than a…
Black Sea MAP / EEF Expeditions
More than a mile below the Black Sea’s surface, incorporated into the dark, an ancient Greek ship has been invisible by human eyes for centuries – until the Black Sea Archaeological project happened on its watery tomb last year.
The team announced Tuesday finding its discovery has been “confirmed as the oldest intact shipwreck known for humanity.” Radiocarbon dating back to about 400 BC, the merchant vessel stretched the waves in Plato and Sophocle’s days when the towns of ancient Greece had scattered colonies around the Black Sea.
Since then, it has set at a depth of more than twice the height of the tallest skyscraper in the world. In deep water, oxygen is difficult to get rid of, and because of it, it’s also the organic processes that help to destroy decomposition. It left the ship anything but undisturbed until the research team discovered it – along with dozens of other shipwrecks – during an 800 square kilometer survey of the seabed.
“A ship that survived intact from the classic world lies in over 2km of water, something I would never have thought possible,” said Jon Adams, an archeology professor at the University of Southampton and the group’s main researcher, in a statement released Tuesday . “This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and shipping in the old world.”
For an example of the ship’s value, the team pointed to a completely different type of vessel – ceramics. The group says that ships of the design they found last The year before, found in works of art such as Siren Vase, an artifact dated several decades earlier than the ship.
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The vase depicts a scene from Odyssey where Odysseus is attached to the mast as he passes the deadly sirens. Now, according to MAP, they know that it also shows a representation of real merchant ships used around the same time as their find.
“It’s like another world,” said Helen Farr, an expeditionary. “It’s when ROV [remote operated vehicle] drops down the water column and you see this ship appearing in the light at the bottom so perfectly preserved it feels like you’re back in time.”
But ancient Greece is not the only bygone age to reveal itself under the waves.
For three years of sweetening the Black Sea, the group says it has discovered more than 60 sunken ships – from old boats as it announced Tuesday to ships of a more modern variety. It includes an 18th century racing fleet launched by the Cossacks, a people who at that time settled north of the Black Sea, near the border with modern Russia and Ukraine.
The team releases a documentary about its findings Tuesday at the British Museum, which gives an insight into what archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert called “an incredibly rich museum of human history.”
“This wreck shows the unrivaled potential for conservation in the Black Sea, which has been a critical crossing of world cultures for thousands of years,” he told National Geographic. “It’s an incredible find.”