A 2400-Year-Old Ship Seen Only in Ancient Greek Art Was Found at the Bottom of the Black Sea

Courtesy of The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project
Courtesy of The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project

A sunken trading ship believed to be from ancient Greece has been found in remarkable condition at the bottom of the Black Sea, The Guardian reports. Archaeologists say the vessel is more than 2400 years old, making it the world’s oldest intact shipwreck on record.

The mast is still upright, and the rudders and rowing benches have also remained in place. Members of the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP) found the ship a mile below the surface. According to the group, the Black Sea is considered “one of the world’s finest underwater laboratories” because it contains an anoxic (or unoxygenated) layer that helps preserve ancient artifacts and ships.

Jon Adams, MAP's principal investigator, said the discovery of such a well-preserved ship from the classical world was previously inconceivable. He said the find “ will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.” Previously, ships of this kind have only been seen on works of art, like ancient Greek pottery. The vessel is thought to be similar to the one painted on The Siren Vase, a work of pottery that dates back to about 480 BCE, which depicts the fictional Odysseus (from The Odyssey) fastened to the mast to resist the lure of the Sirens.

“There are ships down there that have never been seen apart from in murals and paintings and in books, and these are the first time they have been seen since they were afloat,” expedition CEO Edward Park told The Guardian.

The University of Southampton took a small piece of the wreckage and used carbon dating to confirm the vessel’s age. The MAP has also found more than 60 ships from the Classical, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods since the project launched in 2015.

[h/t The Guardian]

A ‘Lost’ Viking Graveyard Was Discovered in Norway

LMGPhotos/iStock via Getty Images
LMGPhotos/iStock via Getty Images

Contrary to popular belief, Scandinavian Vikings didn't send their dead out to sea on flaming ships. When someone died, they buried the body in the ground just as people have been doing across cultures for centuries. A recent discovery sheds new light on the Vikings' version of the practice. As Atlas Obscura reports, an entire Viking graveyard has been unearthed by archaeologists in Norway.

A survey leading up to a highway expansion revealed the site in Vinjeøra, a town located next to an ancient Viking farm. The graveyard contains several boat burials. While there's no evidence of Vikings ever conducting burials at sea in Scandinavia, they did sometimes load their cadavers onto boats—the boats just happened stay on land and act as coffins rather than watery graves. This may have contributed to the modern Viking funeral myth.

Among the boats, the dig team also found the remains of 20 burial mounds, including one that was especially noteworthy. The mound—which had been leveled by centuries of agriculture—once covered a mortuary house where a body was laid to rest. Archaeologists say the size and elaborate nature of the grave indicate that someone important, such as a chieftain or war hero, was buried there.

The house itself is no longer around for researchers to study, but it did leave behind a rectangular footprint, and a few foundational stones as evidence of its existence. By studying the grave mounds and boats, the archaeologists hope to learn more about a group of people that disappeared without leaving behind any written records of their lives.

Viking grave sites don't just tell us who the Vikings revered and how they treated their dead—they can also tell us what they did for fun. Ancient burial boats have revealed that some Vikings were buried with board games.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

Civil War Cannonballs Found on South Carolina Beach in Aftermath of Hurricane Dorian

ABDESIGN/iStock via Getty Images
ABDESIGN/iStock via Getty Images

Hurricane Dorian skimmed the United States' East Coast last week, creating a trail of damage residents are still dealing with. But it wasn't just trash and debris the storm surges left behind: As WCSC reports, two cannonballs dating back to the Civil War were discovered on Folly Beach in South Carolina in the aftermath of the storm.

Aaron Lattin and his girlfriend Alba were walking on the beach on September 6 when they saw what looked like rocks nestled in the sand. As they examined them more closely, they realized they had found something much more special. The weathered objects were actually cannonballs that have likely been buried in the area for more than 150 years.

Incredibly, this isn't the first time Civil War cannonballs have been discovered on Folly Beach following a hurricane: In 2016, Hurricane Matthew unearthed 16 of them. Folly Island was used as a Union base a century and a half ago, and items leftover from the artillery battery built there are still scattered around the shoreline. The couple behind this latest discovery believes there are more waiting to be found.

Old cannonballs may look like cool artifacts to treasure hunters, but they should still be treated with caution. Police and bombs disposal technicians were called to the scene at Folly Beach to confirm the cannonballs were no longer functional.

[h/t WCSC]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER