"A small piece of the vessel has been carbon dated and it is confirmed as the oldest intact shipwreck known to mankind", the project said in a statement.
"A ship, surviving intact, from the Classical world, lying in over two kilometres of water, is something I would never have believed possible", said Professor Jon Adams from the University of Southampton in southern England, the project's main investigator. Experts have spent three years surveying over 772 square miles of the Black Sea in a search for shipwrecks. Incredibly, modern eyes have only seen this type of ship before as an illustration on the "Siren Vase", a stunningly decorated vase depicting the ship of Odysseus, which is now in the British Museum.
The Black Sea has always been an important trade route between Europe and Asia, meaning it's been a hub of activity for countless cultures and civilizations, including the Greeks, Persians, Scythians, Romans, Goths, Huns, Crusaders, and Ottomans, to name but a few.
It's among more than 60 shipwrecks uncovered by the global team of maritime archaeologists and scientists working on the $19 million, three-year mission to explore the Black Sea's depths. A lack of oxygen at that depth preserved it, the researchers said.
The artefact shows Odysseus, hero of Homer's epic poem The Odyssey, bound to the mast of a vessel as Sirens circle overhead, trying to lure sailors on to the rocks with their enchanting songs. The find could drastically alter our understanding of 'ancient shipbuilding and seafaring'. Ancient Greek. c 480 BC.
The ambitious project, which includes maritime archaeologists, scientists and surveyors, aims to unlock the mysteries of the Black Sea.
During this time, they have found 60 wrecks including a 17th-century Cossack raiding fleet, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman vessels - and now this complete specimen from the Hellenic Golden Age.
The team's findings will be presented at the British Museum Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.