Archaeologists have found what they believe to be the world’s oldest intact shipwreck at the bottom of the Black Sea where it appears to have lain undisturbed for more than 2,400 years, the Guardian reported.
The 23-metre vessel, thought to be ancient Greek, was discovered with its mast, rudders and rowing benches all present and correct just over a mile below the surface.
What preserved it was the lack of oxygen at that depth, researchers said.
“A ship surviving intact from the classical world, lying in over 2km of water, is something I would never have believed possible,” Professor Jon Adams, the principal investigator with the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP), the team that made the find, told the Guardian.
“This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world,” he added.
The ship is believed to have been a trading vessel of a type that researchers say has only previously been seen “on the side of ancient Greek pottery such as the ‘Siren Vase’ in the British Museum”.
That work, which dates from about the same period, depicts a similar vessel bearing Odysseus past the sirens, with the Homeric hero lashed to the mast to resist their songs.
The team reportedly said they intended to leave the vessel where it was found, but added that a small piece had been carbon dated by the University of Southampton and claimed the results “confirmed [it] as the oldest intact shipwreck known to mankind”. The team said the data would be published at the Black Sea MAP conference at the Welcome Collection in London later this week.