The ancient Greeks once sailed the seas aboard ships like the ones depicted on ancient murals and vases from the time of Plato. In modern times, though, we have never actually laid eyes on one—that is, until now.
In the depths of the Black Sea, more than 80 kilometers off the coast of Burgas, Bulgaria, an ancient Greek merchant ship, resembling paintings of the vessel used by Homer’s Odysseus, was discovered by an Anglo-Bulgarian research team in October 2018.
From carbon dating, the ship is thought to be over 2,400 years old, making it the world’s oldest ship ever found that is still intact.
The vessel measures 23 meters long (75 feet), and its rudder, rowing benches, as well as the contents of its cargo hold remain preserved despite being two-dozen centuries old.
The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP) team located the ship at a depth of 2,000 meters below the surface (well beyond the reach of modern divers) using two underwater robotic explorers to digitally map the wreck in 3D.
They also took samples for carbon dating. “It’s when the ROV [remote operated vehicle] drops down through the water column and you see this ship appear in the light at the bottom so perfectly preserved it feels like you step back in time,” MAP researcher Dr. Helen Farr told BBC.