Skip to Content

World’s Oldest Intact Shipwreck Found Off the Coast of Bulgaria

The world’s oldest, intact shipwreck has been discovered off the coast of Bulgaria, with a complete rudder, rowing benches, and hold.

“A ship surviving intact from the classical world, lying in over 2km of water, is something I would never have believed possible,” Professor Jon Adams, the principal investigator with the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP), told The Guardian. “This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.”

The 75-foot-wreck is thought to be an ancient Greek merchant ship, as it resembles the vessel painted on the historic “Siren Vase,” today stored at the British Museum. The vase depicts Homer’s epic hero Odysseus, tied to the ship’s mast in order to resist the sirens’ songs.

The ship, laying more than a mile below the surface of the Black Sea, appears to be of the same construction. Due to the lack of oxygen at that depth, the ship has remained preserved, undisturbed, for more than 2,400 years.

An Anglo-Bulgarian team discovered the wreck using two underwater remote operated vehicles. While the ship will be left where it lies, the team created a 3-D image of the ship and took a sample to carbon-date its age. The contents of the hold remain unknown, but the team will need more funding if they’re to return to the wreck, the BBC reports.

“Normally we find amphorae (wine vases) and can guess where it’s come from, but with this it’s still in the hold,” Helen Farr, of the expedition, told the BBC.

The Greek merchant ship is just one of more than 60 wrecks in the Black Sea discovered by an international team of maritime archaeologists, scientists, and surveyors over the past three years.