'Never Believed Possible': Oldest Intact Shipwreck Known To Mankind Found In Black Sea

The vessel has been carbon-dated to 400BC and is the oldest known intact shipwreck in the world.

A shipwreck found "perfectly preserved" more than 2000 metres below the surface of the Black Sea has been confirmed as the world's oldest intact shipwreck, according to a team of archaeologists from Bulgaria and the UK.

The ship, which resembles a Greek trading vessel previously only illustrated on the side of ancient Greek pottery, was found after a three year expedition of advanced mapping of the Black Sea floor.

Found off the coast of Bulgaria reportedly less than 100 kilometres from the port city of Burgas, the ship was discovered far enough below the surface that the water was oxygen free and capable of preserving organic material for thousands of years, archaeologists said.


Professor Jon Adams, the Black Sea Maritime Archaeological Project's lead investigator and Professor at the University of Southampton said the ship dated back to the Classical world.

“A ship, surviving intact, from the Classical world, lying in over two kilometres of water, is something I would never have believed possible,” Adams said.

“This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.”

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

"It's when the ROV [remote operated vehicle] drops down through the water column and you see this ship appear in the light at the bottom so perfectly preserved it feels like you step back in time," she told the BBC.

The expedition which started in 2015 has so far found more than 60 shipwrecks, including a 17th century Cossack raiding fleet and a Roman trading vessels carrying amphorae.

In a video from Black Sea MAP and EEF Expeditions obtained by AP, the program's CEO Edward Parker said they were ships that had never been seen before.

"There are ships down there that had never been seen, apart from in murals and in paintings and books and these are the first times they had been seen since they were afloat."

Stamnos (vase) depicting Odysseus tied to the mast listening to the songs of the Sirens, Greece. Ancient Greek. c 480 BC. Athens. Photo: Getty

"We have discovered fantastic evidence for seafaring in the Black Sea, since probably the fifth century AD up until the 19th century," Archaelogist Dr Dragomir Garbov said in the video.

"We're talking entirely preserved ships from keel to gunnel. We're talking about still preserved ropes, shipwrecks that literally look as if they had sunk yesterday," Garbov said.

"We are looking at a snapshot of a moment in time, probably as long as 1,000 years ago. We're looking at the last moment in the life of a ship."

Researchers also found and excavated the remains of an early settlement at Ropotamo in Bulgaria believed to be from the Bronze Age, lying just over two metres below the surface.

According to the University's website, the settlement was abandoned due to rising water levels but remains of house timbers, hearths and ceramics were discovered.

It's understood the valley where it was found had been used by Greek colonists in the Archaic period, as well as a harbour for early Byzantine seafarers and later an anchorage by the Ottomans.


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