World’s oldest intact shipwreck found in black sea

Mumbai: An ancient Greek trading ship dating back more than 2,400 years has been found virtually intact at the bottom of the Black Sea. The vessel is one of more than 60 shipwrecks including Roman ships and a 17th-century Cossack raiding fleet identified by the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project.

During the three-year project, researchers used specialist remote deep-water camera systems previously used in offshore oil and gas exploration to map the seafloor.

The ship, which is lying on its side with its mast and rudders intact, was dated back to 400 BC — a time when the Black Sea was a trading hub filled with Greek colonies. The project team said the vessel, previously only seen in an intact state on the side of ancient Greek pottery, was found at a depth of more than 2,000 metres (6,500 feet).

“A small piece of the vessel has been carbon dated and it is confirmed as the oldest intact shipwreck known to mankind,” the British-led Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project said in a statement on Tuesday.

This type of a ship has previously only been seen in an intact state on the side of ancient Greek pottery such as the Siren Vase held by the British Museum.

The water at that depth is oxygen-free, meaning that organic material can be preserved for thousands of years. The project’s main investigator said that this would change the understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.

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