Three recently discovered shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea could give archaeologists new insights into the transition between medieval and modern shipbuilding.
The remains of the three craft — all dating from between 1450 and 1600 — were found in the straits between Turkey and the Greek island of Rhodes.
One ship appears to be a large English merchant ship, while the other two are smaller — perhaps a patrol craft from Rhodes and a small trading boat that could have been Turkish, Italian or Greek.
Though the three shipwrecks were discovered near each other, they are not thought to be related, or to have foundered in the same event.
"The real import of those vessels were they just happen to be from that period when you're moving from those oared vessels that had guns on them to sailed vessels that had guns on them," said archaeologist Jeffrey G. Royal of the RPM Nautical Foundation in Key West, Fla. "We were fortunate to find several vessels that spoke to that era."
To discover the shipwrecks the researchers used a combination of advanced technology, and persistence.
"We map the seafloor with a really intense sonar system that makes very accurate detailed maps of the seafloor," Royal told LiveScience. "Once we examine those maps we can tell anomalies that may be cultural remains versus geology."
When sign of possible shipwrecks appeared, the researchers sent down automated robots with lamps and cameras and robotic arms, which confirmed there were remains.