World's Oldest Intact Shipwreck Discovered in the Black Sea

World's Oldest Intact Shipwreck Discovered in the Black Sea

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The world's oldest intact shipwreck has been discovered in the Black Sea after the most technologically advanced search ever.

Carbon dated to 500 BCE, the ship is among 72 found at the bottom of the sea and may have been depicted on an ancient vase.


World's oldest intact shipwreck discovered far down in the Black Sea

With help from some of the world's most advanced deep-diving submersibles, maritime scientists have discovered what they say is the world's oldest intact shipwreck at the bottom of the Black Sea.

Radiocarbon dating shows that the wooden vessel dates to 400 B.C., around the time the Greeks invented the catapult and North America's Olmec culture was dying out. It was found off the coast of Bulgaria in late 2017 after lying undisturbed on the seafloor for more than 2,400 years.

"This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world," Jon Adams, a professor of archaeology at the University of Southampton in England, said in a statement.

Adams heads the Black Sea Maritime Archaeological Project (Black Sea MAP), the joint Anglo-Bulgarian expedition responsible for the discovery of this shipwreck and scores of others in the region.

For anyone coming to this late today. A quick spin around this unique 2500 year old vessel. From @BlackSeaMAP @RPachecoRuizSea & @felix_pedrotti great work everyone. #shipwreck #archaeology more tomorrow when we present at @ISBSArchaeology pic.twitter.com/oFPnOPqReL

— Soton Archaeology (@sotonarch) October 23, 2018

The 75-foot-long ship lies partially buried on its side more than a mile below the surface. The water at that depth is mostly free of oxygen, which helps explain why the vessel — including its mast and rowing benches — has remained intact to this day.

"The usual critters that eat wood and other organics elsewhere in the world's oceans cannot live in these anoxic waters, so shipwrecks that drop onto the seafloor are preserved as if they were in the world's biggest pickle jar," Brendan Foley, a marine archaeologist at Sweden's Lund University, told NBC News MACH in an email. Foley has been involved with the discovery of other shipwrecks in the region but wasn't involved in the new discovery.

The oar- and sail-powered ship is thought to be a Greek trading vessel similar to one depicted on a celebrated vase in the British Museum in London. The "Siren Vase," which dates to about 480 B.C., shows Odysseus tied to the mast of his galley as described in Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey."

The newfound shipwreck is too deep to be reached by divers. But the Black Sea MAP's research ship, the Stril Explorer, is equipped with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) that can do the job. One of the ROVs carries lights and high-definition video cameras as well as a laser scanner and other high-tech instruments.

"The new systems reduce the costs of deep ocean survey and search, and increase the area that can be investigated in a given time," Foley said in the email. "Now it's becoming possible to map an entire basin (think: the whole Black Sea) and discover every shipwreck on the seafloor."


Archaeology breakthrough: Discovery of 40 ‘unbelievable’ shipwrecks in Black Sea

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A team of archaeologists explored the waters in Eastern Europe with a robot which helped divers see a number of vessels &ndash some from as far back as the 13th century. The researchers claimed the ships found at the bottom of the Black Sea open a new window on forerunners of the 15th- and 16th-century sailing vessels that discovered the New World, including those of Columbus. One ship probably served the Venetian empire, which had Black Sea outposts. Never before had this type of ship been found in such complete form. The breakthrough was the quarterdeck, from which the captain would have directed a crew of perhaps 20 sailors.

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Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz, an expedition member at the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton said: &ldquoThat&rsquos never been seen archaeologically.&rdquo

He added: &ldquoWe couldn&rsquot believe our eyes.&rdquo

In what was described as one of archaeology's greatest coups &ndash the ship was one of 40 found off the Bulgarian coast.

Jon Adams, the leader of the Black Sea project and founding director of the maritime archaeology centre at the University of Southampton said the ships found in 2016 were "astonishingly preserved".

Archaeology news: A photogrammetric image of a ship from the Ottoman era (Image: Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP)

Archaeology news: The world&rsquos oldest shipwreck dating from 400BC of ancient Greek origin (Image: getty)

Archaeologist Brendan P. Foley said the good condition of the shipwrecks implied that many objects inside their hulls might also be intact.

He added: &ldquoYou might find books, parchment, written documents.

&ldquoWho knows how much of this stuff was being transported? But now we have the possibility of finding out. It&rsquos amazing.&rdquo

Mr Foley has explored a number of Black Sea wrecks, and claimed the sea&rsquos overall expanse undoubtedly holds tens of thousands of lost ships.

He continued: &ldquoEverything that sinks out there is going to be preserved. They&rsquore not going away.&rdquo

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Archaeology news: The discovery was made in the Black Sea (Image: getty)

Dr Pacheco-Ruiz also recalled the moment the robot's light lit up the ropes of the ancient vessel.

He said: I was speechless. When I saw the ropes, I couldn&rsquot believe my eyes. I still can&rsquot."

Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz said the vessel hailed from the Ottoman Empire, whose capital was Constantinople (today Istanbul), and most likely went down some time between the 17th and 19th centuries.

He said the team nicknamed it &ldquoFlower of the Black Sea&rdquo because its deck bears ornate carvings, including two large posts with tops that form petals.

Archaeology news: The Black Sea could be home to thousands of shipwrecks (Image: getty)

Archaeology news: Black Sea mapped (Image: getty)

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In 2018, Professor Adams found what is believed to be the world's oldest intact shipwreck at the bottom of the Black Sea where it appeared to have lain undisturbed for more than 2,400 years.

The vessel was 23 metres in length and was likely from ancient Greece. In the mast of the ship, researchers found rudders and rowing benches all present just over a mile below the surface.

What enabled the ship to remain in such good condition was the lack of oxygen so deep in the sea, the researchers claimed at the time.

Professor Adams said after the find: &ldquoA ship surviving intact from the classical world, lying in over 2km of water, is something I would never have believed possible.

&ldquoThis will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.&rdquo


Stunning shipwreck discovery: 'World's oldest intact' wreck found

Researchers have discovered what they say is the world’s oldest intact shipwreck at the bottom of the Black Sea. Until now, the ship had only been seen on pottery.

Researchers have discovered what they say is the world’s oldest intact shipwreck at the bottom of the Black Sea.

The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project announced the discovery of an ancient Greek trading vessel off the coast of Bulgaria at a depth of 1.2 miles. Their experts spent three years surveying over 772 square miles of the Black Sea before the great find.

"A ship, surviving intact, from the Classical world, lying in over 2 km [1.2 miles] of water, is something I would never have believed possible," said project co-lead Professor Jon Adams, of the U.K.'s University of Southampton, in a statement. "This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world."

Oxygen-free conditions in the water have preserved the ship, which the group says has been carbon-dated to more than 2,400 years ago. "The Black Sea is considered to be one of the world’s finest underwater laboratories due to the anoxic (un-oxygenated) layer which preserves artifacts better than any other marine environment," explains the Project on its website. The conditions can preserve material for thousands of years.

The vessel’s design had previously been seen only on ancient Greek pottery, such as the "Siren Vase" in the British Museum in London.

Stamnos (vase) depicting Odysseus tied to the mast listening to the songs of the Sirens, Greece. Ancient Greek. c 480 BC. Athens. (Werner Forman/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

The shipwreck was discovered in late 2017, archaeologists confirmed Tuesday.

The ambitious project, which involved maritime archaeologists, scientists and surveyors, aims to unlock the mysteries of the Black Sea.

Experts have used technology previously available largely to oil companies in their research. It has discovered over 60 shipwrecks, including a 17th-century Cossack raiding fleet and Roman trading vessels carrying amphorae.

A documentary on the project has opened at the British Museum in London on Tuesday.


Oldest Intact Shipwreck Discovered in the Black Sea

Archaeologists know quite a bit about ancient ship design from the classical world since the Greeks liked to decorate their pottery with images of impressive wooden military vessels and cargo ships that plied the Mediterranean sea for centuries. Except for a few precious remnants of wood, however, the vessels themselves are long gone. But researchers in the Black Sea have uncovered something incredible.

Kevin Rawlinson at The Guardian reports that the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP) has discovered an Greek merchant vessel on the floor of the sea dating back to about 400 B.C., the oldest known intact shipwreck ever discovered.

The MAP team discovered the ship 50 miles off the coast of Bulgaria. Because the water in the lower reaches of the Black Sea is anoxic, or lacks oxygen, the wooden cargo vessel has not deteriorated much since it sunk to the bottom of the ocean all those centuries ago. Its mast, rudders, the cargo in its hold and even the benches where rowers sat are still well-preserved.

The ship was discovered during a three-year-long project. Over that time, the team located 60 vessels, using advanced laser scanning and photogrammetry to create 3D images of the ships. The 75-foot Greek ship was discovered during the final phase of the mission in the summer of 2017. A small piece of wood was recovered from the wreck and radiocarbon dated, confirming its 2,400-year-old pedigree.

“A ship, surviving intact, from the Classical world, lying in over 2 km [1.2 miles] of water, is something I would never have believed possible,” archaeologist Jon Adams of the University of Southampton and principal investigator for the Black Sea MAP project says in a press release. “This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.”

The ship is believed to be a trading vessel similar to a merchant ship depicted on the Siren Vase held at the British Museum. The vase, which dates to around the same time as the ship, is an image of the hero Odysseus lashed to the mast in order to resist the song of the Sirens, who mythology says used their hypnotic song to lure sailors into shipwrecking on their rocky island.

The purpose of Black Sea MAP wasn’t primarily to find shipwrecks. Instead, the crew was interested in using the latest high-tech mapping technology to investigate the seabed and understand how sea level has changed in the body of water since the last ice age. The radar, however, also pinpointed the sites of ships from 2,500 years of maritime history, including Roman ships, Greek ships, Cossack raiding vessels and others. The team also found a Bronze Age settlement at Ropotamo in Bulgaria in a sheltered harbor that was often used by Greek, Ottoman and Byzantine sailors.

While the ships are usually covered in sediment, their masts and shapes are still often visible with the naked eye and the sonar and laser scans reveal even more details.

“It’s like another world,” maritime archaeologist and MAP expedition member Helen Farr tells 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.”

There are no plans to salvage the Greek ship since it is extremely fragile, and the team has not released its exact location to preserve it from looters. The team will present a paper and more technical details on the find later this week.

About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.


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Jon Adams, the project’s chief scientist, said the wreck was very well-preserved, with the rudder and tiller still in place.

'A ship, surviving intact, from the Classical world, lying in over 2km of water, is something I would never have believed possible,' he said

'This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.'

SHIPWRECK SHEDS NEW LIGHT ON THE SIREN VASE

The Siren Vase on display at the Siren the ancient, shows a ship with a mast identical to the one now found on the seabed

The ship, found 1.3 miles under the surface, could also shed new light on the ancient Greek tale of Odysseus tying himself to a mast to avoid being tempted by sirens.

The image, most famously on the Siren Vase on display at the Siren the ancient, shows a ship with a mast identical to the one now found on the seabed.

‘The Siren Painter’, as he is known, has his most famous work exhibited in the British Museum.

His real name is unknown, as are the date of his birth and death.

The vase shows Odysseus, the hero from Homer’s epic poem, tied to the mast of a similar ship as he resisted the Siren’s calls.

In the Odyssey, Odysseus orders his men to plug their ears with beeswax.

He himself, curious to know what the Sirens sounded like, asked to be tied tightly to the mast and leave him bound no matter how much he pleaded and begged to be released

Prior to this discovery ancient ships had only been found in fragments with the oldest more than 3,000 years old.

The team from the Black Sea Maritime Archaeological Project said the find also revealed how far from the shore ancient Greek traders could travel.

Adams told The Times the ship probably sank in a storm, with the crew unable to bail water in time to save it.

Ulysses and the Sirens in another piece of Greek artwork

The archaeologist believes it probably held 15 to 25 men at the time whose remains may be hidden in the surrounding sediment or eaten by bacteria.

He said he plans to leave the ship on the seabed because raising it would be hugely expensive and require taking the pint joints apart.

he ship was both oar and sail-powered.

It was chiefly used for trading but the professor believes it may have been involved in ‘a little bit of raiding’ of coastal cities.

It was probably based at one of the ancient Greek settlements on what is now the Bulgarian coast.

THE 'DEAD ZONE'

With no light and no oxygen in the Black Sea's lower, anoxic layer, no life can survive.

This means the environment cannot support the organisms that typically feast on organic materials, such as wood and flesh.

As a result, there is an extraordinary opportunity for preservation, including shipwrecks and the cargoes they carried.

He said: ‘Ancient seafarers were not hugging the coast timidly going from port to port but going blue-water sailing.’

The find is one of 67 wrecks found in the area.

Previous finds were discovered dating back as far as 2,500 years, including galleys from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires.

Scientists stumbled upon the graveyard while using underwater robots to survey the effects of climate change along the Bulgarian coast.

Because the Black Sea contains almost no light or oxygen, little life can survive, meaning the wrecks are in excellent condition.

Researchers say their discovery is 'truly unrivalled'.

Many of the ships have features that are only known from drawings or written description but never seen until now.

Carvings in the wood of some ships have remained intact for centuries, while well-preserved rope was found aboard one 2,000-year-old Roman vessel.

The project, known Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (Black Sea MAP), involves an international team led by the University of Southampton's Centre for Maritime Archaeology.

Ed Parker, CEO of Black Sea MAP, said: 'Some of the ships we discovered had only been seen on murals and mosaics until this moment.

The ship lies in over 2km of water, deep in the Black Sea where the water is anoxic (oxygen free) which can preserve organic material for thousands of years.

'There's one medieval trading vessel where the towers on the bow and stern are pretty much still there.

'It's as if you are looking at a ship in a movie, with ropes still on the deck and carvings in the wood.

'When I saw that ship, the excitement really started to mount – what we have found is truly unrivalled.'

Most of the vessels found are around 1,300 years old, but the oldest dates back to the 4th Century BC.

Many of the wrecks' details and locations are being kept secret by the team to ensure they remain undisturbed.

Black Sea water below 150 metres (490 ft) is anoxic, meaning the environment cannot support the organisms that typically feast on organic materials, such as wood and flesh.

The wrecks, such as this one from the Medieval period, are astonishingly well preserved due to the anoxic conditions (absence of oxygen) of the Black Sea below 150 metres (490 ft). This trading vessel was found with the towers on the bow and stern still mostly in place

Shown here is a shipwreck from the Ottoman period discovered 300 metres beneath the Black Sea. Many of the wrecks' details and locations are being kept secret by the team to ensure they remain undisturbed

The researchers used two Remotely Operated Vehicles (pictured) to survey the sea bed. These have discovered a number of wrecks over a series of expeditions spanning three years, including the one pictured from the Byzantine period, found in October last year

HISTORY OF THE BLACK SEA

Many of the colonial and commercial activities of ancient Greece and Rome, and of the Byzantine Empire, centred on the Black Sea.

After 1453, when the Ottoman Turks occupied Constantinople (and changed its name to Istanbul), the Black Sea was virtually closed to foreign commerce.

Nearly 400 years later, in 1856, the Treaty of Paris re-opened the sea to the commerce of all nations.

As a result, there is an extraordinary opportunity for preservation, including shipwrecks and the cargoes they carried.

Ships lie hundreds or thousands of metres deep with their masts still standing, rudders in place, cargoes of amphorae and ship's fittings lying on deck.

Many of the ships show structural features, fittings and equipment that are only known from drawings or written description but never seen until now.

Project leader Professor Jon Adams, of the University of Southampton, said: 'This assemblage must comprise one of the finest underwater museums of ships and seafaring in the world.'

The expedition has been scouring the waters 1,800 metres (5,900ft) below the surface of the Black Sea since 2015 using an off-shore vessel equipped with some of the most advanced underwater equipment in the world.

The vessel is on an expedition mapping submerged ancient landscapes which were inundated with water following the last Ice Age.

While the primary focus of the project is to carry out geophysical surveys, shipwrecks, including this one from the Ottoman period, have given new insights into how communities live on the shores of the Black Sea

The researchers had discovered over 40 wrecks across two previous expeditions, but during their latest trip, which spanned several weeks and returned this month, they uncovered more than 20 new sites.

Returning to the Port of Burgas in Bulgaria, Professor Jon Adams said: 'Black Sea MAP now draws towards the end of its third season, acquiring more than 1300km [800 miles] of survey so far, recovering another 100m (330 ft) of sediment core samples and discovering over 20 new wreck sites, some dating to the Byzantine, Roman and Hellenistic periods.'

The researchers are using two Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to survey the sea bed.

SCANNING THE BLACK SEA BED

The researchers are using two Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to survey the sea bed.

One is optimised for high resolution 3D photography, while the other, called Surveyor Interceptor, 'flies' at four times the speed of conventional ROVs and carries an entire suite of geophysical instrumentation, as well as lights, high definition cameras and a laser scanner.

Since the project started, Surveyor Interceptor has set new records for depth (1,800 metres) and sustained speed over six knots (seven miles/hour), and has covered 1,250 kilometres (776 miles).

A collection of more than 60 shipwrecks has been discovered and inspected, many of which provide the first views of ship types never seen before.

Among the wrecks are ships from the Roman, Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, which provide new information on the communities on the Black Sea coast.

One is optimised for high resolution 3D photography, while the other, called Surveyor Interceptor, 'flies' at four times the speed of conventional ROVs.

The Interceptor carries an entire suite of geophysical instrumentation, as well as lights, high definition cameras and a laser scanner.

Since the project started, Surveyor Interceptor has set new records for depth at 5,900ft (1,800 metres) and sustained speed of over six knots (7mph), and has covered 1,250 kilometres (776 miles).

Among the wrecks are ships from the Roman, Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, which provide new information on the communities on the Black Sea coast.

Professor Jon Adams of The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology project holding a 3D model of a Greek shipwreck from 400BC, officially the World's oldest intact shipwreck, at the Wellcome Collection, London

After three years of highly advanced technological mapping of the Black Sea bed, scientists confirm that a shipwreck lying intact on the sea floor has been officially radiocarbon dated to 400BC

Many of the colonial and commercial activities of ancient Greece and Rome, and of the Byzantine Empire, centred on the Black Sea.

After 1453, when the Ottoman Turks occupied Constantinople - and changed its name to Istanbul - the Black Sea was virtually closed to foreign commerce.

Nearly 400 years later, in 1856, the Treaty of Paris re-opened the sea to the commerce of all nations.

The scientists were followed by Bafta-winning filmmakers for much of the three-year project and a documentary is expected in the coming years.

Producer Andy Byatt, who worked on the David Attenborough BBC series 'Blue Planet', said: 'I think we have all been blown away by the remarkable finds that Professor Adams and his team have made.

'The quality of the footage revealing this hidden world is absolutely unique.'


The Panagiotis ran aground on the Greek island of Zakynthos in 1980.

The Panagiotis was smuggling cigarettes, alcohol, and possibly humans from Cephalonia to Albania in 1980 when it washed ashore on the Greek island of Zakynthos.

There are many theories as to how it got there: the ship was being chased by authorities and crashed on the beach it hit rocks during a storm it was abandoned and simply washed up on land it suffered a mechanical failure.

Today, the wreck is a popular tourist attraction only accessible by boat.


World’s oldest intact shipwreck discovered at the bottom of the Black Sea

The world&rsquos oldest intact* shipwreck has been discovered more than 2km beneath the waves of the Black Sea, archaeologists* believe.

A team of researchers from the UK and Bulgaria found the Ancient Greek ship while surveying 2000sq km of seabed.

A small piece of wood was taken for tests and carbon dated* to 400BC, making it the &ldquooldest intact shipwreck known to mankind*&rdquo, according to the group.

The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (Black Sea MAP) said it spent three years combing the depths of the Black Sea using remote-controlled deepwater camera systems, which can provide ultra high-definition images from more than 2km below the surface.

Their exploration unearthed more than 60 shipwrecks, including Roman trading ships and a 17th century Cossack* raiding fleet.

This video shows Black Sea MAP explorers diving to see another shipwreck they found. The Ancient Greek ship is too deep for divers to visit

In late 2017, the most recent phase of the work, the cameras recorded the remains of the Ancient Greek ship jutting* from the sand.

Its original shape had not been destroyed despite thousands of years at the bottom of the sea, with a mast and rudder* still clearly visible.

Black Sea MAP divers looking at another, shallower shipwreck found as part of the project.

Researchers said a ship of this design has never been seen in real life.

A design like this ship has only previously been seen on Greek pottery from the time, such as the Siren Vase in the British Museum. This famous vase shows Odysseus, hero of Homer&rsquos epic poem Odyssey , tied to the mast of a ship as Sirens* circle overhead, trying to lure sailors onto the rocks with their enchanting songs.

This is a replica of a ship, perhaps something like the one found on the Black Sea seabed. These ships were rowed, usually by slaves. Making this and other replicas has been a guess, as one has never before been seen in real life. Picture: AP

The shipwreck is well preserved because there is no oxygen in the water.

Professor John Adams and the University of Southampton led the expedition, which also had UK students from disadvantaged schools on board.

&ldquoA ship, surviving intact, from the Classical world*, lying in over 2km of water, is something I would never have believed possible,&rdquo said Professor Adams.

&ldquoThis will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring* in the ancient world.&rdquo

This epic poem was written by Homer in about the 8th century BC, making it between about 2700 and 2800 years old.

It is the second-oldest surviving piece of literature* in the Western* world.

Odyssey is the sequel to Iliad, which is the oldest surviving piece of Western literature.

An epic is a long story about a time long ago involving extraordinary humans and their dealings with gods and other superhumans.

Odyssey is about the long journey home from the 10-year Trojan War of a hero named Odysseus, known in Roman stories as Ulysses.

No one is really sure who Homer was. He or she may have been from the land that is now Turkey.

The poems are written in an ancient language called Homeric Greek.

This is another photo of an experimental replica of a ship something like the one found under the Black Sea. Picture: AP

archaeologists: researchers who study human history by studying artefacts

carbon dated: tested something that was once living to know its age

Cossack: a group of people in history that lived in southern Russian and the Ukraine, in eastern Europe

jutting: sticking out

rudder: steering blade

Sirens: dangerous creatures from Greek mythology who lured sailors to steer their ships towards rocks

Classical world: Ancient Greeks and Romans in the time from 8th century BC to 5-6th century AD

literature: written stories

Western: usually means European, in contrast to Eastern, which means Asian

1. How do they know how old it is? How does the test work?

2. It&rsquos too deep to visit. How did they get the photos?

3. Where have ships of this design been seen?

5. What did the Ancient Romans call Odysseus?

What things do you think we can learn about Ancient Greece from this shipwreck? Write a list of all of the different things that would be part of the wreck and might be found inside it.

Time: Allow 20 minutes

Curriculum Links: History, English

Extension: Write a story, poem, song or script for a performance about the ancient shipwreck, an adventure on a voyage in ancient times or anything that this story inspires.

Time: Allow 30 minutes

Curriculum Links: English

The glossary of terms helps you to understand and learn the ambitious vocabulary being used in the article. Can you use the words outlined in the glossary to create new sentences? Challenge yourself to include other VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) elements in your sentence/s. Have another look through the article, can you find any other Wow Words not outlined in the glossary?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What would you most like to know about life 2400 years ago? Why? Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No one-word answers.


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The reason the trading vessel, dating back to around 400 BC, has remained in such good condition for so long is that the water is anoxic, or free of oxygen. Lying more than 2,000m below the surface, it is also beyond the reach of modern divers.

"It's preserved, it's safe," she added. "It's not deteriorating and it's unlikely to attract hunters."

The vessel was one of many tracking between the Mediterranean and Greek colonies on the Black Sea coast. It was discovered more than 80km off the Bulgarian city of Burgas.

The team used two underwater robotic explorers to map out a 3-D image of the ship and they took a sample to carbon-date its age.

The vessel is similar in style to that depicted by the so-called Siren Painter on the Siren Vase in the British Museum. Dating back to around 480 BC, the vase shows Odysseus strapped to the mast as his ship sails past three mythical sea nymphs whose tune was thought to drive sailors to their deaths.

As yet the ship's cargo remains unknown and the team say they need more funding if they are to return to the site. "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 Farr.

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

Over the course of three years the academic expedition found 67 wrecks including Roman trading ships and a 17th Century Cossack trading fleet.


World's Oldest Intact Shipwreck Discovered in the Black Sea - History

AFP PHOTO/Black Sea MAP/EEF Expeditions Enhanced 3D imaging of the remains of the 2,400-year-old shipwreck at the bottom of the Black Sea.

A team of European researchers has found a treasure trove of ancient shipwrecks at the bottom of the Black Sea, and one of them is now believed to be the world’s oldest intact shipwreck.

The 75-foot-long, almost completely preserved shipwreck was discovered 1.2 miles below the surface of the Black Sea. Researchers posit that it has laid there untouched for over 2,400 years.

The ship was discovered by a team of researchers with the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project as a part of their three-year-long mission to survey the floor of the Black Sea and garner information about prehistoric sea level changes.

“It’s like another world,” Helen Farr, a researcher on the expedition, reported. “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.”

The team credits the incredible condition of the ship to the anoxic waters of the Black Sea — which is water that is oxygen-free. The ship is so deep underwater that the oxygen levels are too low to sustain any marine life so no animals have disturbed it either and the ship is at a depth too deep to come in regular contact with divers.

After more than two millennia at rest at the bottom of the Black Sea, the ship’s rudder, rowing benches, and the contents inside its hold all remain in place.

“A ship surviving intact from the classical world, lying in over 2km of water, is something that I would have never believed possible,” Professor Jon Adams, the principal investigator with the project, said in a statement. “This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.”

The researchers believe that the ship belonged to the ancient Greeks and was used as a trading vessel. However, this type of vessel is unique and has only been seen before “on the side of ancient Greek pottery such as the ‘Siren Vase’ in the British Museum,” according to the researchers.

Werner Forman/UIG via Getty Images The ‘Siren Vase’ at the British Museum.

The Siren Vase’s origins can be traced back to 480 BC and it depicts legendary Homer character Odysseus bound to the mast of his ship in order to stop himself from falling victim to the men-killing songs of the three mythical Sirens that surround him. The ship is eerily similar to that found at the bottom of the Black Sea.

The team plans to leave the ship undisturbed in its final resting place but did remove a small piece of it so that they can carbon-date the ship’s exact age.

While it is considered the oldest intact shipwreck, the find is but one of dozens of prehistoric ruins the team has found at the bottom of the Black Sea. Their finds range from a 󈬁th century Cossack raiding fleet, through Roman trading vessels, complete with amphorae, to a complete ship from the classical period.”

The landlocked Black Sea has been a passageway for ships and sailors for thousands of years, and one can only wonder what other treasures remain undiscovered beneath its surface.

Next, take a look at the brewers who used yeast found in a 220-year-old shipwreck to create the world’s oldest beer. Then discover why this 400-year-old shipwreck is being touted as the discovery of the decade.


Another ancient Greek vessel

According to Greek Reporter , a joint expedition of the Institute of Archaeology of NAS of Ukraine and the Warsaw Institute of Archaeology have also made another interesting ancient shipwreck discovery in the Black Sea. Underwater archaeologists from that team recently found another 2,500-year-old Greek merchant vessel sunk off the coast of the Mykolaiv region, albeit in a less than complete state.

‘View of the city of Nikolaev.’ ( Public Domain )

Vyacheslav Gerasimov, head of the expedition, said “This ship is one of the oldest known in the Northern Black Sea. The ship belonged to the ancient Greek mariners V century BC – the period of colonization of the Northern black sea, when was the first settlement of Olbia.”

The team is waiting to finish their research before they will decide what to do with the ship. Conservation is a major concern, which is why they are leaving the ancient Greek shipwreck in its place for now.

Greek Reporter says there are no known images or video available of that shipwreck yet.

Reconstruction of ancient Greek galleys. ( Public Domain )

But the Black Sea isn’t the only sea holding ancient shipwrecks. In July 2017, it was announced that the Aegean Sea holds dozens of shipwrecks dating back thousands of years. A joint Greek-American expedition declared 53 shipwrecks had been discovered just around Fourni, making it the largest known concentration of shipwrecks in the Mediterranean.

There was a high volume of maritime traffic at Fourni and it was generally a safe place to drop anchor. However, unexpected southern storms sometimes took mariners off-guard, and if they failed to change the position of their anchor in time, they’d crash into the rocks and eventually be added to the number of ancient shipwrecks for underwater archaeologists to find in the area thousands of years later.

Top image: Imaging of ROV visiting the oldest intact shipwreck known. Source: Black Sea Map /EEF Expeditions


Watch the video: Divers Say Theyve Discovered The Worlds Oldest Intact Shipwreck At The Bottom Of The Black Sea