The Titanic might be among the world’s most famous sunken ships, but it certainly isn’t the oldest shipwreck out there. This distinction is reserved for the ship that scientists have recently discovered off the coast of Bulgaria.
Found at the bottom of the Black Sea, the 75-foot ship is believed to date back to 400 BC and be the world’s oldest intact shipwreck. It is considered to have functioned as a Greek trading vessel, which, until now, had only been seen on the sides of ancient Greek pottery such as such as the “Siren Vase” in the British Museum. Surprisingly, its mast, rudders, and rowing benches are all intact, probably preserved by the lack of oxygen at the 1.25-mile depth it was under.
Professor Jon Adams, principal investigator with the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project, said, “A ship surviving intact from the classical world…is something I would never have believed possible. This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.”
For the past three years, maritime archaeologists, scientists, and marine surveyors have been on a mission to explore the Black Sea to gather data on prehistoric sea-level changes. This ship is one of over 60 wrecks that have been discovered in the process. The rest vary in age, from a 17th-century Cossack fleet to Roman trading vessels.
Although the research team intends to leave the Greek vessel in place, a small piece has been taken and used for carbon dating, which confirms that it is, in fact, the oldest shipwreck currently known to humankind. More detailed data will be published at the Black Sea MAP (Maritime Archeology Project) conference in London later this week.