A recent underwater excavation at Turkey's Urla Port has uncovered a ship estimated to date back 4,000 years, which experts say would make it the oldest sunken ship to have ever been discovered in the Mediterranean — and possibly anywhere.
The exact age of the ship still needs to be confirmed, but that would put it ahead of two other boats in the competition for world's oldest wreck. There's the Uluburun wreck, found off the coast of Kaş, which is around 3,500 years old, and the sunken ship of Hatshepsut, the fifth pharaoh of Ancient Egypt's 18th dynasty, which is about 3,650 years old.
As reported by Hurriyet Daily News, the recent discovery was made by archaeologists from Ankara University's Research Center for Maritime Archaeology (ANKÜSAM). The wreck was found at Urla Port, one of Turkey's rare underwater excavation sites.
According to Hayat Erkanal, the head of Limantepe excavations for the underwater ancient city of Klozemenai and director of ANKÜSAM, the port dates back to the seventh century B.C. It was a coastal town, making it the site of many sunken ships from different eras, but an earthquake in the 8th century left the city underwater.
"If we confirm that the sunken ship [we have found] is 4,000 years old, it will be a very important milestone for archaeology," Erkanal said.
Erkanal said materials removed from seawater must be cleaned of salt to prevent further decay. This process is conducted in a large restoration and conservation laboratory at the recently opened Mustafa Vehbi Koç Maritime Archaeology Research Center and Archaeopark. The process of removing a sunken ship from the water can take approximately seven to eight years, Erkanal said.
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