Friday, December 17, 2004


1,000-year old vessel to be salvaged intact


China Daily
December 14, 2004

The Guangdong provincial government has decided to salvage an ancient boat which sank in the waters of this coastal city in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), according to Jing Lihu, deputy director of the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Culture.

The work will start before 2006. A special task force consisted of archaeologists from Beijing and Guangdong Province has been set up, Jing recently told a press conference in Yangjiang.

The vessel, discovered in the late 1980s by fishermen, has been named Nanhai No 1.

Preparations are well underway, Jing said.

Local archaeologist Wu Jing said the wooden vessel, which is still in good condition, is thought to contain 60,000-80,000 valuable pieces, more than the total number of historical relics that are now in museums in Guangdong Province.

The vessel is 24.58 meters long and 9.8 meters wide. It weighs more than 3,800 tons. The vessel is covered by 2-metre deep silt, Wu said. He believes Nanhai No 1 was made with timber painted or soaked with a special plant oil.
Wu intends the entire vessel to be brought up and put on show in the museum. The ship will be useful in studying ancient Chinese ship building and navigation technologies, Wu said.

Archaeologists removed more than 4,000 artifacts, plus many silver and bronze coins, from only a small part of the boat after a small-scale salvage was launched last year.

Most of the pieces are ancient ceramics and porcelain products produced in east China's Fujian, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces in the Song Dynasty.

Nanhai No 1 is believed to be a merchant vessel that operated between the southern Chinese region and the rest of the world.

The ocean liner sank in the western part of the mouth of the Pearl River while it was sailing to the Middle East and Europe.

Archaeologists estimate there are more than 1,000 sunken ships in waters around Guangdong, which mark the starting point of China's marine silk road.

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