View Full Version : China's 800 year-old sunken merchant ship

Dec 23, 2007, 22:08
I can't wait to see local cable TV History Channel documentary program on this discovery :-)

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSSHA19774920071222?sp=true

SHANGHAI (Reuters) -An 800-year-old merchant ship was raised from the bottom of the South China Sea on Saturday, loaded with artefacts that might confirm the existence of an ancient maritime trade route linking China and the West.

The 30-meter (100-foot) wooden vessel, containing thousands of gold, silver and porcelain trading goods, was hoisted onto a barge in a steel cage as high as a three-storey building, a live broadcast by national television showed.

Named the Nanhai No. 1 or "South China Sea No. 1" by archaeologists, the ship was discovered in 1987 off the coast of Guangdong province, buried in two meters (6.5 feet) of silt at a depth of 30 meters.

The Nanhai will be towed to a 150 million yuan ($20 million) museum built to house it in Guangdong, where it will be placed in a tank dubbed the "crystal palace" with the same water temperature and pressure that it experienced on the seabed.

The museum is expected to open by the end of next year and visitors will be able to watch excavation of the ship from the silt encrusting it through windows in the sides of the tank. Full excavation could take years.

More than 4,000 gold, silver and porcelain containers have been found on the Nanhai, one of the biggest and oldest merchant ships ever recovered in China, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Also discovered were 6,000 copper coins from the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.), when the boat was built. Archaeologists believe they might find tens of thousands more artefacts.

The Nanhai could provide evidence of a "Marine Silk Road" linking China's Guangdong and Fujian provinces to Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe, similar to the better-known, overland Silk Road stretching across central Asia into Europe.