Last week we talked about one of the largest concentrations of shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea. As it turns out, the ancient Greek colonies along the Black Sea coast were also engaged in their fair share of maritime activities – as is evident from what could be the oldest known intact shipwreck in the world. By virtue of the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (started in 2015), the 2,400-year old Greek trading ship was identified at the bottom of the water body. And to give an idea of the sheer scale of sea-based activities in the area, the researchers have been able to identify around 60 ancient shipwrecks – ranging from ancient Roman ships to 17th century Cossack vessels (used for raiding the Turkish coastal settlements).
Using state-of-the-art remote deep-water camera systems, usually reserved for offshore oil and gas exploration, the researchers were able to map the underwater sector of the seafloor (near the coast of Bulgaria). The aforementioned Greek trading ship was identified within this perimeter at a depth of more than 2,000 m (approx 6,500 ft). According to the archaeologists, this depth probably allowed for an oxygen-free environment, which in turn aided in preserving the organic material of the ship for over two millennia.
The (possibly) world’s oldest intact shipwreck, dating from circa 400 BC, was found lying on the side with its mast and rudders judged to be in a well-preserved condition. The archaeologists have mentioned that the design of this merchant ship resembles a painted specimen depicted on the Siren Vase – currently kept at the British Museum (pictured above). Professor Jon Adams from the University of Southampton, who acts as the project’s principal investigator, said –
A ship, surviving intact, from the Classical world, lying in over 2km of water, is something I would never have believed possible. This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.