A team of Turkish underwater researchers have discovered what they believe is the world’s oldest shipwreck from 1600 B.C. According to the Provincial Governor’s Office, the 3,600-year-old Bronze Age shipwreck was found off the shores of the Antalya province in southern Turkey.
Members of the Antalya University’s Underwater Research Department discovered the 14-meter-long (or 46 feet) merchant ship with 1.5 tons of copper bullion inside.
Governor Münir Karaloğlu told reporters that the discovery of the shipwreck, called “Western Antalya Shipwreck” was groundbreaking for underwater archaeology and described it as the “Göbeklitepe” of the underwater world. The archaeological site of Göbeklitepe located in Şanlıurfa has the world’s oldest temple and is quite often referenced to as the ground zero of human history.
He also mentioned that the items that will be taken from the shipwreck will be put on display at a museum in Kemer district which will be known as “the epicenter of underwater archaeology.”
The researchers took three-dimensional scans of the bullion on the ship by using sonar surveys, photo-scans, and photographic mosaic. They were able to determine that the bullion were taken from mines in Cyprus, and then molded in the 15th or 16th centuries B.C. before being put on the ship to transport them either to the Aegean region or the island of Crete. The ship didn’t make its destination as it sank from what they believe was a storm.
Hakan Öniz, who is one of the researchers from Antalya University, stated, “It was probably caught in the middle of a storm while traveling to the Aegean [northwest of Antalya] region from Cyprus [island south of Antalya]. It was carrying a cargo of copper bullion and type of the bullion helped us date the ship. This may well be the world’s earliest vessel carrying industrial goods.” He then said that a new team with local and international researchers will come together for a five-year project in order to conduct more research on the shipwreck.
Prior to this recent discovery, the “Uluburun Shipwreck” that dates back to 1400 B.C. was located off the shores of Antalya and was the oldest shipwreck of its kind until now. The items found on the ship are currently being displayed at the Museum of Underwater Archaeology located in the Muğla's Bodrum district.
And just last year, the remains of a Greek merchant ship was discovered off of Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. The shipwreck was from over 2,400 years ago and was said to be the world’s oldest known intact shipwreck...until now.