Intact shipwreck believed to be oldest known to mankind found in Black Sea

Photo: Black Sea MAP/EEF Expeditions
Photo: Black Sea MAP/EEF Expeditions

A sunken ancient Greek trading vessel dating back 2,400 years has been found at the bottom of the Black Sea near Bulgaria.

The University of Southampton’s Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP) announced on Tuesday, October 23, its discovery of the wreck late last year during the course of a three-year survey of the Black Sea.

The Black Sea MAP team has confirmed the discovery as “the oldest intact shipwreck known to mankind.”

The 22-metre ship, which bears a strong resemblance to the merchant vessels depicted on ancient Greek vases, was found at a depth of more than two kilometres.

Radiocarbon dating of a small piece of the wreck places the vessel at around 400 BCE.

The unusual water chemistry of the Black Sea and lack of oxygen at depths beyond 180 metres produces an anoxic effect that prevents the occurrences of the physical and chemical processes that cause organic decay. This resulting anoxic layer is said to have contributed to the ship’s unique preservation.

The vessel was one of more than 60 historic shipwrecks found during the survey.

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