2,400-Year-Old ‘Odysseus’ Greek Vessel Discovered Intact at the Bottom of the Black Sea
The ancient Greek trading ship was found intact, bow to stern, almost perfectly preserved, even with its mast, rudders and rowing benches.
The ship looks almost similar to a vessel seen in a British Museum vase depicting Greek hero Odysseus’ voyage home from the Trojan war.
More than 2,400 years ago, scientists at the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project estimated the 75-foot vessel was consigned to Davy Jones’ Locker.
It was found in what has been described as a “shipwreck graveyard” where over 60 other sunken ships have been discovered.
The ship was found in 2017 by a remote controlled submarine piloted by Brit scientists but has just been confirmed as the “oldest intact shipwreck”.
It has the design of an Ancient Greek trading vessel design previously only seen on the side of ancient Greek pottery such as the “Siren Vase” in the British Museum.
The ship is over 1.3 miles deep on the bed of the Black Sea where the water is oxygen free, around 50 miles off the coast of Bulgaria.
This “anoxic” water can preserve organic material for millennia and a small piece of the vessel has been carbon dated to 400BC.
It revealed the accuracy of the painter of the Siren Vase who painted an almost identical vessel onto the pottery.
Jon Adams, professor of archaeology at the University of Southampton and chief scientist of the team that found the wreck, told The Times: “Nobody has ever known how accurate the representation on the Siren Vase was and whether the artist was making it up or drawing what he saw.
“Now we see archaeological evidence showing a ship very close in detail, even down to the shape of the rudder blade.
“The artist must have been familiar with ships.”
Prior to this discovery, ancient ships had only been found in fragments with the oldest more than 3,000 years old.
The team from the Black Sea Maritime Archaeological Project said the find also revealed how far from the shore ancient Greek traders could travel.
Archaeologist believes it probably held 15-25 men at the time whose remains may be hidden in the surrounding sediment or eaten by bacteria.
He said he plans to leave the ship on the seabed because raising it would be hugely expensive and require taking some of the joints apart.
The ship, which was powered by both sails and oars was mainly used for trade but could have occasionally played a role in battle, raiding coastal cities.
The find is one of 67 wrecks found in the area.
Previous finds were discovered dating back as far as 2,500 years, including galleys from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires.