Sunken Roman Ship from 2nd-3rd Century AD Discovered in Black Sea off Crimea’s Coast

The relatively well-preserved carcass of what likely was a sunken Ancient Roman merchant ship from the 2nd-3rd century AD has been discovered at a depth of 85 meters near the coast of the Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea. Photo: Video grab from Tass

A well-preserved sunken Roman ship from the 2nd-3rd century AD has been discovered by a Russian underwater archaeology expedition in the Black Sea, off the coast of Balaklava on the Crimean Peninsula.

The sunken Roman ship lies at a depth of about 85 meters (280 feet), and the underwater archaeologists have been able to date the vessel largely thanks to the discovery of its iron anchor, Tass reports.

Russia’s military forces seized Crimea from Ukraine in early 2014 and shortly afterwards annexed the Black Sea peninsula.

The Russian annexation has been rejected by the international community, and has led the West to impose sanctions on Moscow. However, Russia has established de facto control over a large zone in the Black Sea that comprised Ukraine’s territorial waters surrounding Crimea, and has sent a number of research expeditions there.

Back in 2015, one such expedition discovered a sunken sizable Byzantine ship carrying a large number of amphorae.

The newly discovered sunken Roman ship near Balaklava on the Crimean coast has been found by an underwater expedition called “Neptune".

“We have found an ancient wooden sailing ship with a well-preserved anchor. The anchor suggests that the ship can be preliminarily dated to the Roman period. If it turns out to be true, it is a unique find as it is the first Roman vessel found in Crimea in such an excellent condition,” expedition leader Roman Dunayev has said.

“The ship has retained its shape due to the unusual conditions at great depths in the Back Sea, with almost no light or oxygen,” he added.

According to senior researcher Viktor Lebedinsky, the sunken Roman ship discovered off the coast of Crimea may have been a merchant vessel.

“The discovered vessel, presumably dating back to the 2nd or 3rd centuries, rests at the depth of 85 meters, and this is a wooden carcass,” says Lebedinsky who works at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The sunken Roman ship’s iron anchor has allowed the maritime archaeologists to make conclusions about the historic period when the vessel was in use.

At the shipwreck site, they have also identified is a big mast with the diameter of more than half a meter (nearly 2 feet).

“The discovered object is 22 meters (72 feet) long and 6 meters (20 fee) wide which corresponds to the size and proportions of the so-called “round ships” used during the Roman era as merchant vessels,” Lebedinsky says.

The newly discovered ancient vessel is said to be the best preserved sunken Roman ship to have ever been found in the waters around the Crimean Peninsula. Photos: Video grabs from Tass

Russia’s Neptune underwater archaeology expedition in the Black Sea, which includes over 30 staff members, is taking place from early May until late October, and is sponsored by the Russian Presidency under a project called “Crimea, the Crossroads of Civilizations”.

In another underwater discovery, the Neptune expedition has found about a dozen paintings, some of which are attributed to Russian painter Ivan Aivazovsky, in the sunken 19th century steamship General Kotzebue.

The General Kotzebue sank in April 1895 about 12 nautical miles off Cape Tarkhankut in the western part of the Crimean Peninsula after colliding with another ship.

The General Kotzebue was built in Great Britain in 1866. It was named a Russian governor, Pavel (Paul) Kotzebue, and was operated by the Russian Steam Navigation and Trading Company.

In November 1869, it allegedly became the first steamship to cross the Suez Canal carrying a numerous Russian delegation, including painter Ivan Aivazovsky, who was supposed to paint the opening ceremony and the canal itself.

A 2,000-year-old sunken Ancient Roman ship was recently discovered on the bottom of the Black Sea in Bulgaria’s territorial waters by the international Black Sea M.A.P. expedition, alongside several dozen other ancient, medieval, and Modern Era shipwrecks.

Another intriguing underwater archaeology story recently connected with the Black Sea has been the hypothesis that a large sunken island existed in its southwestern part, near today’s coast of Bulgaria and Turkey.

Also check out these underwater archaeology stories about the findings of the Black Sea M.A.P. expedition in Bulgaria’s territorial waters in the Black Sea:

Archaeologists Discover Perfectly Preserved 2000-Year-Old Roman Ship, 20 Other Shipwrecks in Black Sea Off Bulgaria’s Coast

Pre-Columbian Mediterranean ‘Round’ Ship Discovered for the First Time by Underwater Archaeology Expedition in Bulgaria’s Black Sea Zone

No ‘Biblical Deluge’ but Gradual Ice Age Melting Made Black Sea ‘a Sea’, Archaeologists Find after Underwater Expedition in Bulgaria’s Waters

Also check out these stories about sunken or submerged cities along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast and beyond:

Archaeologists to Resume Excavations of Half-Sunken Ancient Black Sea City Byzone near Bulgaria’s Kaliakra Cape after 10-Year Break

Maritime Archaeologists Find Bronze Age Settlement under Black Sea’s Seabed off Bulgaria’s Coast

Early Byzantium’s Haemimontus Province on Bulgaria’s Southern Black Sea Coast Presented in New Book Based on 8 Years of Excavations

Submerged Ancient Thracian Capital Seuthopolis in Bulgaria’s Koprinka Water Reservoir Could Be ‘Resurfaced’ with US Government Money

‘Resurfacing’ of Submerged Ancient Thracian Odrysian Capital Seuthopolis Could Make It Global Tourist Attraction, Archaeologist Says

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