A team of maritime archaeologists and scientists carbon dated the Greek trading vessel to 400BC – making it around 2,400 years old.
The researchers have spent three years surveying a 2000 squeare kilometer area of the sea bed to study prehistoric sea level change – and in the process came across more than 60 shipwrecks.
The ship is believed to have been a trading vessel of a type that researchers say has only previously been seen “on the side of ancient Greek pottery such as the ‘Siren Vase’ in the British Museum”.
The ship, laying more than a mile below the surface of the Black Sea, appears to be of the same construction.
Due to the lack of oxygen at that depth, the ship has remained preserved, undisturbed, for more than 2,400 years.
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.
The team reportedly said they intended to leave the vessel where it was found, but added that a small piece had been carbon dated by the University of Southampton and claimed the results “confirmed [it] as the oldest intact shipwreck known to mankind”. The team said the data would be published at the Black Sea MAP conference at the Wellcome Collection in London later this week.