An ancient Greek commercial ship that dates back more than 2,400 years has been found intact at the bottom of the Black Sea, off the Bulgarian coast, according to researchers, who described it as The oldest known shipwreck in the world. .
The ship, which lies on its side with the mast and rudders intact, dates back to 400 BC, a time when the Black Sea was a commercial center full of Greek colonies.
"A small part of the vessel has been dated to carbon and is confirmed as the oldest intact shipwreck known to mankind," the British-led Maritime Archeology Project, led by the British, said in a statement on Tuesday.
This type of ship has only been seen previously in an intact state on the side of the ancient Greek pottery, such as the siren vase held by the British Museum.
The team, which includes British marine archaeologists, Bulgarians, Swedes, Americans and Greeks, and maritime scientists, said the ship was found at a depth of more than 2 km.
The water at that depth is free of oxygen, which means that the organic material can be preserved for thousands of years.
"A ship, surviving intact, from the classical world, lying in more than two kilometers of water, is something I would never have thought possible," said Professor Jon Adams, of the University of Southampton, in southern England, the principal investigator of the project.
"This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and navigation in the ancient world," he said.
Helen Farr, a member of the project team, added: "We have shipwreck fragments that are earlier, but this one really seems intact.
"The project as a whole was actually seeing the sea level change and the flooding of the Black Sea region (…) and shipwrecks are a happy byproduct of that," he told BBC radio.
The Greek ship is one of the more than 60 shipwrecks identified by the project, including Roman ships and a seventeenth-century Cossack assault fleet.
In addition to dozens of shipwrecks, they found the remains of an ancient settlement of the Bronze Age underwater near the ancient Black Sea coast.
During the three-year project, researchers used specialized systems of remote deep-water cameras that were previously used in offshore oil and gas exploration to map the seabed.
A documentary about the project will open on Tuesday at the British Museum.