An ancient merchant ship has been discovered under Taman Bay near the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.
About 13 centuries ago, the vessel left Byzantium and then sank off Phanagoria, the largest Greek colony on the Taman peninsula.
At the time, Phanagoria was said to be the biggest economic and cultural center in the Mediterranean.
Russian archaeologists will have tougher times ahead trying to shed light on the sinking of the vessel. It is still unclear why there only one amphora was on board and what happened to the cargo.
Scientists are yet to found out the name of the ship which has already been called the most valuable artifact in 12 years.
As for Phanagoria, it was the center of the Bosporan Kingdom in the 5th century B.C. Phanagoria had been an essential part of Byzantium for several centuries and then it became the first capital of Bulgaria and subsequently one of the largest cities of the Khazarian Empire.
Right now, one third of this ancient city is submerged by the sea, which is why many refer to Phanagoria as ‘Russian Atlantis.’
Vladimir Kuznetsov, head of the Phanagorian archaeological expedition, says that it is under the Black Sea that the relevant artifacts are being searched for.
"We are exploring the sea bed with the help of special equipment, Kuznetsov says, citing the 15-meter-long merchant ship that was found under Taman Bay earlier this year.
Right now, we are in the process of cleaning the vessel that was hidden by a 1.5-meter layer of sand.
We were really lucky to find such an ancient ship, something that was preceded by our discovering other artifacts under the Black Sea, including parts of marble statues," Kuznetsov concludes.