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]

Stonehenge Builders Likely Descended From Immigrants, Genetic Analysis Says

Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

There's a lot we don't know about Stonehenge, but until recently, the structure was thought to have been built by hunter-gatherers native to what's considered England today. A new study disputes that theory. As IFL Science reports, Stonehenge was likely the the work of Turkish people who migrated to Britain 6000 years ago and their descendants.

In the new report published in the journal Nature: Ecology & Evolution, scientists from London's Natural History Museum and University College London explain how they analyzed the DNA from the remains of dozens of people who lived in Britain between 8500 BCE and 2500 BCE.

The results contained fewer native British genes than expected: Researchers found that when the people whose bones they studied were alive, most of Britain's hunter-gatherer population had already been replaced by farmers from the Aegean region.

Roughly 6000 years ago, people from what is now Turkey traveled across Europe and settled in Britain. In addition to reshaping the British gene pool, the new group also introduced agriculture to the area. Archaeologists have long debated whether farming is something that was brought to Britain by a different culture or if native hunter-gatherers gradually adopted it on their own.

"The transition to farming marks one of the most important technological innovations in human evolution. It first appeared in Britain around 6000 years ago; prior to that people survived by hunting, fishing and gathering," study co-author Mark Thomas said in a press release. "Our study strongly supports the view that immigrant farmers introduced agriculture into Britain and largely replaced the indigenous hunter-gatherer populations."

That means Stonehenge, the first part of which was constructed around 3000 BCE, was likely the work of people who were culturally and genetically closer to ancient Aegeans than native Britons. But how they moved the 25-ton stones to their current location and for what purpose remains a mystery.

[h/t IFL Science]

An Ancient Shipwreck Has Been Turned Into an Underwater Museum Off the Coast of Greece

iStock.com/ultramarinfoto
iStock.com/ultramarinfoto

If you love ancient history and eerie, abandoned places, it might be time to break out the scuba diving gear and book a flight to Greece. As AFAR reports, the site of an ancient shipwreck near Alonissos, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, has been turned into an underwater museum.

While underwater museums exist in Florida, Mexico, and Europe, those destinations are geared more toward art and sculpture lovers. In this case, divers will be swimming alongside a piece of history dating back to the late 5th century B.C.E. The wooden cargo ship, which sank for an unknown reason, disintegrated long ago. However, the seabed is still covered in thousands of amphoras (a kind of storage jar used in ancient Greece and Italy), which likely held wine.

Dubbed the Peristera shipwreck, the site was discovered in the early 1990s. It was named after the uninhabited island where it was discovered, but guided dives of the site leave from the harbor of Steni Valla on Alonissos, which is located in the Northern Sporades group of islands in the northwest Aegean Sea.

Peristera is the first shipwreck in Greece to be made accessible to the public, but it won’t be the last. As part of a program funded by the European Commission, the country also plans to open up three other shipwreck sites in the Pagasetic Gulf. The efforts are part of a push to promote eco-friendly tourism while also highlighting the country’s rich history.

“The goal is in the next two years to make the country’s shipwrecks visitable, but also to provide important information and raise awareness about underwater monuments, such as the Peristera wreck off Alonissos,” alternate culture minister Kostas Stratis said at an event, according to the Greek City Times.

Italy and Croatia are also expected to create their own underwater museums in the future via the same program, called BlueMed.

[h/t AFAR]

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