"A ship surviving intact from the classical world, lying in over [a mile] of water, is something I would never have believed possible." Thankfully, lead investigator Jon Adams' expectations for a mapping project of the Black Sea have been upended along with our understanding of ancient shipbuilding and seafaring. A 75-foot trading vessel thought to be ancient Greek, the crown jewel of 72 vessels discovered during a three-year mission to study water levels, is confirmed to be the oldest known intact shipwreck, dating to 500 BC, reports Sky News. Indeed, archaeologists had previously only seen such a vessel on the famous Siren Vase of ancient Greek pottery, dating to about 480 BC and depicting a scene from Homer's Odyssey, per the Guardian and BBC.
As the Black Sea is without oxygen, the wreck off the Bulgarian coast is similarly complete, "with the masts still standing, with the quarter rudders in place," expert Kroum Batchvarov tells Sky. There are also intact rowing benches, the remains of a crew meal of monkfish, and coils of rope "still as the bosun left them in the stern when the ship went down," Batchvarov says. "It is an incredible find. The first of its kind ever." Archaeologists, who believe the ship tracked between Greek outposts on the Mediterranean and Black Seas, hope to learn more by opening the ship's cargo hold, though that will require more funding. Sky reports the mission, which has also found Roman trading vessels and a 17th-century Cossack raiding fleet, has cost $19.5 million so far. (In Greece, an "ancient shipwreck capital.")