3,300-Year-Old Ship Discovered Off Israeli Coast, The Oldest Ever Found In Deep Waters

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Organic material retrieved from the Canaanite jars has been transferred to the Israel Antiquities Authority for examination.

In a groundbreaking archaeological discovery, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Thursday that a natural gas company’s standard survey of the Eastern Mediterranean floor had uncovered the most ancient ship ever found in the deep seas.

Discovery of remains 

The discovery of the remains of the ship from the 14th-13th century BCE proves that Late Bronze Age mariners could navigate the seas without a line of sight to the shore, contrary to what was previously believed, the IAA said.

The approximately 3,300-year-old ship with a cargo of hundreds of intact amphorae was found 90 kilometers off northern Israel’s coast, at a depth of 1.8 km.

The world’s oldest known deep-sea ship cargo was found off the coast of northern Israel, 2024.

“We are in ongoing contact with the Israel Antiquities Authority, and when we sent them the images it turned out to be a sensational discovery, far beyond what we could imagine,” said Karnit Bahartan, environmental lead at Energean.

Shipwrecks found near the Turkish coast were accessible using normal diving equipment. However the depth of this shipwreck necessitated Energean and the IAA to team up to conduct a more technically advanced investigative operation.

The robot that surveyed the sea floor of northern Israel and revealed images of the rare ship cargo, 2024. (Emil Aladjem/ Israel Antiquities Authority)

“It seems that wooden beams of the ship are also buried within the mud,”  Sharvit said.

Over two days, two Canaanite vessels, each from a different end of the ship, were extracted. This was done to minimize disturbances to the intact assemblage of the boat and its cargo.

Sharvit noted that international commerce significantly increased during the Late Bronze Age, with the technological qualities of ships greatly improved. This allowed large volumes of goods to be transported and raised the status of port cities such as Canaanite Byblos and other Phoenician cities.

There is no way to be sure why the ship sank. It could have been due to a storm. Alternatively, pirates known as “The Sea Peoples” could have inflicted damage on it.

The vessels extracted from the sea floor will be on display during pre-opening tours of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel in Jerusalem.

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Source: Timesofisrael