World's Oldest Shipwreck Discovered Off Israel's Coast

World's Oldest Shipwreck Discovered Off Israel's Coast

This ancient vessel, dating back approximately 3,300 years to the Bronze Age, offers invaluable insights into early seafaring and the maritime trade networks of the time.

Jacob Sharvit, Israel Antiquities Authority's marine unit (left), with Dr Karnit Bahartan, environmental lead at Energean (right), with the ancient jars. TOP PHOTO: The world's oldest known deep-sea ship cargo. (Photo: Energean via press release)

The shipwreck was found at a depth of 1800m, some 90km from shore, during a survey by a natural gas company, Energean. The wreck is believed to date from a period known for significant cultural and trade exchanges across the region. Artefacts recovered from the site include pottery, weapons, and tools, suggesting that the ship was part of extensive trade routes connecting ancient civilizations across the Middle East, Egypt, and possibly even further afield.

Archaeological findings

Among the artefacts are Canaanite wine jugs, Cypriot pottery, and Egyptian scarabs, indicating a vibrant trade system. These items not only highlight the ship's diverse cargo but also provide clues about the relationships between different ancient cultures and economies. The variety and preservation of the artefacts offer a rare snapshot of the commercial activities and cultural exchanges during the Late Bronze Age.

Technological insights

The construction details of the ship revealed through advanced underwater archaeological methods, provide new insights into the shipbuilding technologies of the time. The ship's design and materials offer valuable clues about the evolution of maritime technology and how ships were adapted for long voyages across the open sea.


The recent discovery has significantly changed our understanding of ancient maritime practices. It suggests that seafaring and long-distance trade were more advanced than we previously believed. This find not only adds a new chapter to the history of naval architecture but also aids historians in reconstructing the economic and cultural landscapes of the ancient world.


International teams are studying the shipwreck site continuously. Their goal is to preserve the artefacts and conduct further excavations. This ongoing research is expected to reveal more about the ancient world, possibly altering historical narratives about the age and sophistication of early maritime expeditions.

This is a world-class history-changing discovery: This find reveals to us as never before the ancient mariners’ navigational skills – capable of traversing the Mediterranean Sea without a line of sight to any coast. To navigate they probably used the celestial bodies, by taking sightings and angles of the sun and star positions.

— Jacob Sharvit, Head of the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit

Israel Antiquities Authority