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2,400-year-old ‘world’s oldest’ shipwreck discovered intact a mile below sea level

It's been dated back to 400BC

  • The world’s oldest shipwreck has been found
  • It was almost 2km (1.25 miles) below the surface of the Black Sea
  • While it’s perfectly preserved, more funds are needed to dive back down and discover more

Published on May 10, 2024 at 8:30PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on May 10, 2024 at 8:30PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Kate Bain

A contender for the world’s oldest shipwreck has been found almost 2km (1.25 miles) below the surface of the sea.

The mysterious 2,400-year-old vessel is thought to have been lying on its side on the sea floor, perfectly preserved since 400 BC, according to carbon dating.

The discovery was made by an Anglo-Bulgarian team in 2017 – and since then astounding footage has surfaced.

READ MORE! The truth about mysterious Bermuda Triangle where planes and ships ‘disappear’

Academics from the University of Southampton worked alongside the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology, and the Centre of Underwater Archaeology in Bulgaria.

What’s thought to be a 23 m (75ft) Greek trading vessel was found off the Bulgarian coast in the Black Sea.

It snatched the official title of the world’s oldest known intact shipwreck

Eerily enough, the rudder, rowing benches, and even the contents of its hold are still as they were when the vessel disappeared beneath the waves.

So why hasn’t this organic material rotted, as is usually the case on shipwrecks?

It’s all down to the lack of oxygen at the depth it was found at.

This allows organic material to be preserved for the long term.

In fact, it can stay as-is for thousands of years, beyond the reach of even modern divers.

The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (Black Sea MAP) surveyed over 2,000 sq km of the seabed using advanced mapping technology.

This search located 65 shipwrecks, including a 17th-century Cossack raiding fleet and Roman trading vessels that still had their amphorae (wine containers) nearby.

If you’ve ever seen ancient Greek pottery, this merchant ship is like one of the ships you’d commonly see on the side.

Helen Farr, who was on the expedition, described the wreckage as coming from ‘another world’ when she spoke to the BBC.

“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 said.

The discovery of an intact ship from the Classical world was previously believed impossible and is invaluable in terms of historic significance.

“This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world,” Jon Adams, professor of archaeology at the University of Southampton and Black Sea MAP’s principal investigator, said on the institution’s website.

However, as epic as the find is, the team will need more funding in order to return to those depths and find out more.

And, until then, the content of the cargo hold will remain a mystery.

What is certainly valuable, is this separate ‘Holy Grail’ shipwreck, worth $20 billion, that is set to be raised from the ocean floor off the coast of Colombia.

“Normally we find amphorae (wine vases) and can guess where it’s come from, but with this it’s still in the hold,” said Farr of the Black Sea find.

“As archaeologists, we’re interested in what it can tell us about technology, trade, and movements in the area.”

In similar news, this more modern, yet huge ship that mysteriously went missing 120 years ago was recently found in Australia.

From a similar era, this mysterious 32-crew ship that vanished without a trace has finally been discovered after a century.

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