London, Feb 15 (ANI): An archaeological expedition has found one of the world's oldest shipwrecks off the coast of Devon, UK, dating back to almost 3,000 years.
According to a report in the Telegraph, the wreck was found in just eight to ten metres of water in a bay near Salcombe, south Devon, by a team of amateur marine archaeologists from the South West Maritime Archaeological Group.
The trading vessel was carrying an extremely valuable cargo of tin and hundreds of copper ingots from the Continent when it sank.
The team has recovered a total of 295 artefacts so far, weighing a total of more than 84kg.
The cargo recovered includes 259 copper ingots and 27 tin ingots. Also found was a bronze leaf sword, two stone artefacts that could have been sling shots, and three gold wrist torcs - or bracelets.
The team has yet to uncover any of the vessel's structure, which is likely to have eroded away.
However, experts believe it would have been up to 40ft long and up to 6ft wide, and have been constructed of planks of timber, or a wooden frame with a hide hull.
It would have had a crew of around 15 and been powered by paddles.
Archaeologists believe it would have been able to cross the Channel directly between Devon and France to link into European trade networks, rather than having to travel along the coast to the narrower crossing between modern day Dover and Calais.
Although the vessel's cargo came from as far afield as southern Europe, it is unlikely it would have been carried all the way in the same craft, but in a series of boats, undertaking short coastal journeys.
Experts say the "incredibly exciting" discovery provides new evidence about the extent and sophistication of Britain's links with Europe in the Bronze Age as well as the remarkable seafaring abilities of the people during the period.
Archaeologists have described the vessel, which is thought to date back to around 900BC, as being a "bulk carrier" of its age.
They believe the copper - and possibly the tin - was being imported into Britain and originated in a number of different countries throughout Europe, rather than from a single source, demonstrating the existence of a complex network of trade routes across the Continent.
Academics at the University of Oxford are carrying out further analysis of the cargo in order to establish its exact origins. (ANI)