LONDON – The remains of an Ancient Greek trading vessel that sank more than 2,400 years ago – possibly the world’s oldest intact shipwreck – have been found near the Bulgarian coast, the research team who discovered it announced on Tuesday.
Experts from the Maritime Archaeological Project, a joint Anglo-Bulgarian venture, located the wreck while surveying an area spanning 2,000 square kilometers (772 square miles) of the Black Sea.
“It’s like another world,” Dr Helen Farr, a member of the team, told the British public service broadcaster BBC.
A small sample was taken for radiocarbon dating at the University of Southampton, which showed that the merchant ship likely sank in the first half of the 5th century before the common era, around the year 480 BC.
The archaeologists spent three years combing the seabed with remotely-controlled underwater cameras capable of capturing high-definition images at depths of up to two kilometers (1.4 miles) below sea level.
The researchers said that the vessel’s rudder and rowing benches remained intact, as well as most contents in its hold, since the water at those depths is anoxic (nearly oxygen-free).
With a length of around 23 meters (75 feet), it is estimated that it could carry a crew of between 15-25 men.
While its cargo has yet to be identified, the ship resembles one depicted on a vase now found in the British Museum.
The stamnos – a type of pottery designed to store liquids – shows the Homeric episode in which the mythical hero Odysseus commanded that his crew strap him to his ship’s mast to resist the deadly singing of fiendish sirens.