London, July 2 : Archaeologists have discovered the wreck of a richly-jewelled 17th century ship in the English Channel, which they have dubbed as an Elizabethan 'Titanic'.
The wreck was found half a mile from the Sandbanks peninsula during recent dredging work of Poole harbour.
According to a report in the Telegraph, marine archaeologists who explored the 600-ton vessel off Dorset believe it may have been as luxurious in its day as the Titanic.
They have carried out a series of dives on the vessel, which lies in 23 feet of water.
Among the treasures they have retrieved is a statue of a merman whose eye sockets would have held precious stones.
The 4.5ft wooden figure was one of a number of statues that would have adorned the stern of the vessel. They have also found seven iron cannon and indications of barrels of cargo, as well as pottery fragments, a copper skillet and a silver spoon.
At 130 feet long, the oak-timbered ship would have been one of the largest of its kind on the seas when it sank in around 1620.
Though its identity is not known, it is likely to be British or Dutch.
The study of the wreck is being led by David Parham, a senior lecturer in marine archaeology at Bournemouth University, who is preserving the merman statue in a paddling pool of fresh water at his home.
According to him, "It would have been a very big vessel for its day. The statue was on the outer ship, probably the stern, staring out and we believe it was part of a collection rather than an individual piece."
"The whole vessel would have been a spectacular work or art. It was a sign of prestige and wealth," he said.
"It would not have been a million miles from a 17th century version of the Titanic, although the Titanic was ornate for the passengers and not for those on the outside," he added.