Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Archaeologists have discovered the world's oldest intact shipwreck half-submerged in sediment at the bottom of the Black Sea.
The 75-foot-long ship was found lurched on its side but in pristine condition. Researchers believe the ship was Greek and dates to 400 BC. Scientists discovered the ancient trading vessel off the coast of Bulgaria.
The ship is one of 60 discovered during a three-year survey of the Black Sea floor.
"A ship surviving intact from the classical world, lying in over [1.2 miles] of water, is something I would never have believed possible," Jon Adams, lead investigator on the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project, told The Guardian. "This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world."
Researchers surveyed wreckage using robotic laser scanning, acoustic and photogrammetric techniques. Divers investigated some of the shallower finds.
The survey was originally focused on measuring sea level change in the region, so to better understand how ancient populations adapted to climate change. But detailed scans of the Black Sea's floor revealed 60 astonishingly well-preserved shipwrecks.
During the three-year survey, researchers identified ships from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods, an interval spanning two and a half millennia.
"This represents an unbroken pattern of trade and exchange, warfare and communication that reaches back into prehistory, and because of the anoxic conditions of the Black Sea -- the lack of oxygen -- below a certain depth, some of the wrecks survive in incredible condition," researchers wrote in a news release.
Many of the ships fit the description of trading vessels described or depicted in ancient literature and drawings, but never seen until now.
The ancient Greek trading vessel looks like the ship depicted on the side of the "Siren Vase" housed at the British Museum. The vase features the ship of Odysseus passing the Sirens. The Homeric hero is tied to the mast to keep him from the sirens' seductive calls.
Researchers with the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project are preparing to present the results of their three-year survey at a conference in London this week.