Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Pearl of Maritime Silk Road Restored in Ningbo


By Chen Lin
December 19, 2006

An ancient boat of Southern Song Dynasty (1127 - 1279) has completed its three-year renovation and became open to the public on December 10 in Ningbo City of Zhejiang Province. It provides evidence for the maritime Silk Road which has applied to be listed as a World Heritage site. The renovation cost almost 1 million yuan (US$128,000).

The boat is 12.79 meters long, 2.8 meters wide and weighs 2 tons. It was mainly used for short-distance transport of up to 3 tons of goods and occasionally served as a passenger transport in the port.

This is the third ancient boat excavated in Ningbo City, bearing witness to ancient Ningbo's splendid history in overseas trade and ship building.

The boat was excavated to the south of the city gate's enceinte site of Heyi Road in the north part of Zhanchuan Street in Ningbo City in 2003. It lay broken at both ends with only the middle part preserved. Due to its long sojourn underground, it was found to contain quantities of mildew and lichen and to have suffered wood shrinkage and the main body contained over 1,000 cracks.

"The two other boats excavated before this one were not well-protected, giving us an international puzzle on wooden cultural relics protection," said Chu Xiaobo, Ningbo Cultural Relics Protection Institute.

To protect this boat well, the municipal finance department appropriated more than 900,000 yuan (US$115,000) to renovate it. A joint work team was set up by the city's cultural relics and archaeology institute, Wuhan University of Technology and Nanjing Museum. After a series of complex procedures including dehydrating, desalting, reinforcing and piecing together the fragments, the boat was restored and exhibited in the Ningbo Museum.

"This is rare substantial evidence for the maritime Silk Road. It will help citizen feel the real history. At the same time, we will accelerate underwater archaeology research and find more and better evidences for that period of history," said Chu. He added that ten relic sites of the maritime Silk Road have been proven, among which Ningbo is the only site without underwater evidence.

Chu revealed, as an important supplement to the archaeology on land, an underwater archaeology team has already been created by the Underwater Archaeology Research Center of the China National Museum and several other underwater archaeology institutes in Zhejiang, Liaoning and Guangdong provinces. The team will begin excavating 37 cultural relic sites in the sea of Ningbo in May next year.


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