A Greek merchant ship that was shipwrecked more than 2,400 years ago, possibly the oldest intact ship in the world, has been found on the Bulgarian coasts, the Anglo-Bulgarian team that was in charge of this project reported today.
Experts from the so-called Black Sea Maritime Archaeological Project (MAP) located the ship during an observation of an area of 2,000 square kilometers in the Black Sea.
A small piece of the boat was taken as a sample to submit it to a carbon test by the English University of Southampton, which established that probably dates from about 400 years before Christ.
The project reported today that the archaeologists spent three years combing the depths of the sea with cameras for deep water and remote control, capable of taking high definition images from a distance of two kilometers under the sea.
The rudder and rowing benches remain intact, according to experts, whose exploration work has found more than 60 ships in recent years, including Roman vessels.
"It's like another world," Helen Farr, part of the expedition team, told Britain's BBC.
"When the ROV (vehicle operated by remote control) goes down through a column of water and you can see this boat appear in the depth, so perfectly preserved, you feel as if you transported in time," Farr said describing the moment in that this Greek merchant was found.
"It's preserved, it's safe, it's not deteriorating and it's unlikely to attract hunters," he added.
This merchant, 23 meters, is one of several sought after in the Mediterranean and on the shores of the Black Sea.
It is estimated that the vessel is from 480 BC. and it is still unknown what their cargo was, according to archaeologists, who admitted they needed more funding to return to the site to continue the investigation.
"As archaeologists, we are interested in what you can contribute about technology, trade and movements in the area" at that time, according to the expert.
The conservation of this piece responds to the conditions of sea water, free of oxygen, which allows to preserve organic material for thousands of years, according to the group.
The principal investigator of the MAP project, Jon Adams, has been amazed by the finding of the piece.
"A ship that has survived intact since classical times, lying under a two-kilometer layer of water, is something I would never have thought possible," he said.
"This is going to change our understanding of maritime construction and navigation in the ancient world," he added.
Archaeologists believe that the ship is similar to the one represented in the well-known vase of the Sirens conserved in the British Museum, a ceramic that describes Ulysses tied to the mast of his ship while resisting the deadly attraction of the song of the sirens.
Other ancient ships found so far, more than 3,000 years old, corresponded only to fragments, according to these experts, who have stressed that this merchant can provide information on the trips made by Greek merchants.
According to the MAP, Most likely, the merchant sank because of a storm and that had a crew of between 15 and 25 people.
Archaeologists pointed out that they do not intend to remove it from the bottom of the sea because it would be extremely expensive to do so.
The CEO of the project, Ed Parker, recalled that some of the boats found by MAP "have only been seen – until now – in murals and mosaics."