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Scientists discover what they say is oldest intact shipweck

Scientists discover what they say is oldest intact shipweck

An ancient Greek trading ship dating 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 hailed it as the world's oldest known shipwreck.

Assumed to be a Greek trading vessel, the ship was so well preserved because it was buried deep in the Black Sea in anoxic (oxygen-deprived) water.

The 75-foot merchant vessel - thought to have sailed during Ancient Greek and Roman times - was salvaged by British scientists about 50 miles off the coast of Bulgaria, as part of the Black Sea Maritime Archaeological Project.

"A small piece of the vessel has been carbon dated and it is confirmed as the oldest intact shipwreck known to mankind", the project said in a statement.

The team, which is comprised of members from the United Kingdom and Bulgaria, discovered the ship lying on the floor of the sea more than two kilometres below the sea.

The British Museum's Siren Vase depicts a ship like the one found in the Black Sea.

The worldwide team of boffins has been on a three-year mission studying sea-level changes throughout history and their impact on the Black Sea, which is in Eastern Europe and surrounded by Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. The group says ships of the design they found last year had previously only been found in artwork such as the Siren Vase, an artifact dated several decades earlier than the ship.

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

The wreck has been described by experts as the world's "oldest intact shipwreck" (Black Sea MAP/EEF Expeditions).

Numerous ships fit the description of trading vessels described or depicted in ancient literature and drawings, but never seen until now.

The documentary team made a two-hour film that is due to be shown at the British Museum on Tuesday. Over the course of three years, the team discovered over 60 shipwrecks, ranging from vessels from the Classical period to a 17th-century Cossack raiding fleet. "This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world".


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