Shipwreck found in Black Sea is 'world's oldest intact'

A perfectly preserved Roman vessel was also pulled from the depths

Image A perfectly preserved Roman vessel was also pulled from the depths

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 is thought to be a trading vessel and was discovered by a team from the Black Sea Marine Archaeology Project (MAP) that has been searching and surveying the length and breadth of the Black Sea, uncovering 60 wrecks so far.

Twenty-four hundred years ago, a 75-foot Greek ship sank to the bottom of the Black Sea.

There are two reasons the ship has been found in such good shape: firstly, it sunk into anoxic waters - with depleted levels of the oxygen that would otherwise have caused the wreck to deteriorate over the years.

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The Siren Vase, featuring a ship similar to the one found at the bottom of the Black Sea. The vase depicts Homer's epic hero Odysseus, tied to the ship's mast in order to resist the sirens' songs.

An global team of scientists this week confirmed the Greek trading vessel is, in fact, the world's "oldest intact shipwreck".

The team, which is comprised of members from the United Kingdom and Bulgaria, discovered the ship lying on the floor of the sea more than two kilometres below the sea.

"I would never believe that a ship from the ancient world could be there, 2km below the water and survive", said the team leader, Professor John Adams, who added that "this will change our perception of shipbuilding and navigation in antiquity ".

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One such ship has now been discovered nearly completely intact at the bottom of the Black Sea at a depth of 1.2 miles, where oxygen levels are so low that marine life is virtually nonexistent. Numerous colonial and commercial activities of ancient Greece and Rome, and of the Byzantine Empire, centred on the Black Sea.

"This wreck shows the unprecedented potential for preservation in the Black Sea, which has been a critical crossroads of world cultures for thousands of years", he told National Geographic. They claim that it is " the oldest intact shipwreck known to mankind".

"Normally we find amphorae (wine vases) and can guess where it's come from, but with this it's still in the hold", said Dr Helen Farr, a marine archaeologist from the University of Southampton.

The Black Sea has risen and fallen as civilizations have waxed and waned. The age of sunken ships spans the classical period, Roman times and the XVII century, when the Cossacks made several sea raids against the Ottoman Empire.

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