The World’s Oldest Intact Shipwreck is Greek and in the Black Sea

The oldest intact shipwreck ever discovered is most likely from ancient Greece, dating back 2.400 years.

The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP), which has spent three years exploring the seabed of the Black Sea, described the wreck to the Guardian as likely to be a trading vessel of the style seen depicted on ancient Greek pottery. Carbon dating proved it to be 2.400 years old, making it the oldest intact shipwreck ever discovered.

The Black Sea is known to preserve artifacts better than most marine environments, thanks to its anoxic water. During their explorations, MAP found as many as 60 wrecks on the bottom of the sea. This particular vessel was found at a depth of over two kilometers, where the lack of oxygen kept it unusually well-preserved. It is 23 meters long, with the mast, rowing benches and rudders still intact and in their original positions.

Ancient Greek shipwrecks are a key source of information for historians, as marine archeologists often make incredible finds onboard and around the wrecks. They are also important indicators of ancient waterways, establishing knowledge of how countries and cultures interacted. Many of the most impressive artifactswe have from ancient times, such as the Antikythera mechanism, were found at the bottom of the sea, and more treasures are constantly being uncovered.

Three more ships were recently discovered off the Fourni islands, where a Greek-American expedition has located a total of 58 wrecks dating from ancient times to the early modern period. 

*Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the shipwreck found is the oldest ever discovered. It is in fact the oldest discovered almost entirely intact.

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