A recent excavation at the port of Urla underwater archaeological site in Turkey has revealed a sunken ship that is believed to date back 4,000 years, according to a report in Hurriyet Daily News . The surprising discovery is the oldest known shipwreck ever found in the Mediterranean, and is also among the oldest known shipwrecks worldwide.
The discovery was made by the Research Center for Maritime Archaeology (ANKÜSAM) at the University of Ankara, during excavations at the well-known Port of Urla underwater site, a port city located near Izmir. The actual port dates back to the 7 th century BC, but maritime history in the area dates back more than 5,000 years.
The port of Urla, which served the ancient Greek settlement of Klazomenai, sunk following a natural disaster, probably an earthquake, in the 8th century BC, making the area popular for underwater research. Numerous sunken ships have already been found in Urla, ranging from the 2 nd century BC to the Ottoman period. Uncovering a ship that is believed to date back to around 2,000 BC, is incredibly rare and significant.
“If we confirm that the sunken ship [we have found] is 4,000 years old, it will be a very important milestone for archaeology,” said Professor Hayat Erkanal, the head of Limantepe excavations for the underwater ancient city of Klozemenai and director of ANKÜSAM.
The research team is now working to confirm its age with more precision, examine its features, and clean salt from the materials to prevent further deterioration. Erkanal explained that it can take up to 8 years to completely remove a sunken ship from the water.
It was only two weeks ago that another significant underwater discovery was made in the Mediterranean – a 2,700-year-old Phoenician shipwreck near Malta’s Gozo island. But the oldest known shipwreck, until now, to have been found in the Mediterranean was the world-famous Uluburun shipwreck , found off the coast of Kas in Turkey in 1982. The Uluburun dates back 3,300 years and contained one of the wealthiest and largest known assemblages of Late Bronze Age items.
It is hoped that the new discovery will provide archaeologists with an abundance of information about society, culture, and maritime history across the Mediterranean.