Read on WWW.CHINAVIEW.COM the latest news about the excavation of a marine ship from the Sung Dynasty (??)
Further two more articles from January 2008 ( more vessels, located in the Grand Canal in China) and November 2007 (has to do with the same ship as the first article).
China to excavate cabins on 800-year-old recovered merchant wreck
GUANGZHOU, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese archaeologists have won permission to start an "excavation" into the cabins of the 800-year-old shipwrecked merchant vessel Nanhai No. 1, the local government said Sunday.
The municipal government of Yangjiang, Guangdong Province, where the Nanhai No.1 boat has been preserved since it was hoisted from a depth of 30 meters below the South China Sea at the end of 2007, won permission from the State Administration of Cultural Heritage in May for the "excavation", Feng Shaowen, director with the municipal publicity bureau, told Xinhua.
The 30-meter-long vessel ship has been soaked in a sealed pool in the "Crystal Palace" at the Marine Silk Road Museum in Yangjiang. The glass pool - 64 meters long, 40 meters wide, 23 meters high and about 12 meters in depth - was filled with sea water and silt to replicate the water temperature, pressure and other environmental conditions of the seabed where the vessel had lain for centuries.
The details of the excavation have not been released so far but it could last three to five years.
Construction of the Marine Silk Road Museum began in early 2006,costing 170 million yuan (24.9 million U.S. dollars).
Discovered in mid 1987 off the coast near Yangjiang, Nanhai No.1 was recognized as one of the oldest and biggest merchant boats sunk in Chinese waters.
Archaeologists have already recovered more than 4,000 artifacts including gold, silver and porcelain, as well as about 6,000 copper coins from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) boat.
Among the 1,000 delicate porcelain wares, many were made by handicraftsmen to feature foreign porcelain patterns and styles, said Feng.
The well-preserved vessel might confirm the existence of an ancient maritime trade route linking China and the West.
As early as 2,000 years ago, ancient Chinese traders began taking china, silk and cloth textiles and other commodities to foreign countries along the trading route. It started from ports at today's Guangdong and Fujian provinces to countries in southeast Asia, Africa and Europe.
The 'Marine Silk Road', like the ancient Silk Road that connected China with south, west and central Asia and Europe, was also a bridge for connecting Eastern and Western cultures, but evidence for the existence of the route is rare, said Huang Zongwei, professor with the Guangdong-based Sun Yat-Sen University.
January 03, 2008
Treasures down with ships continue to dazzle
Believe it or not, archeologists have located the sites of 2,000 ships that sank in China's territorial waters during the heyday of its marine trade.
China was a major maritime power between the 10th and 16th centuries, and the great exploits of Zheng He give an idea of Ming Dynasty's (1368-1644) might on the sea.
The 2,000 wreckages won't be the last to be found, because State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) Director Shan Jixiang says many more are waiting to be located.
Archeologists and other experts are now trying to find the sunken treasures in the Grand Canal, and their number can be "big", Shan says.
Work on the 1,700-km-long canal linking Beijing with Hangzhou began in the 5th century BC. So deft were the engineers of the times, and so farsighted was their vision that the canal is in use even today.
The discovery of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) ship Nanhai-I, which was finally hauled from South China Sea on Saturday, prompted the government to draft a plan to protect its relics lying under water, Shan says. In fact, the work on the plan has already begun.
The discoveries have created the need for regulations and actions, too. "Now that everyone has realized the value of the cultural relics lying under water, it has become all the more urgent to keep thieves and smugglers away from them."
If the country wants to better protect these priceless objects, it has to join the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, says Zhang Wei, director of National Museum of China's underwater archaeological center.
China has just two instruments to protect its underwater heritage: the Cultural Heritage Protection Law, promulgated in 1981 and amended in 2003, and the Regulation on the Protection of Underwater Heritage, announced by the State Council in 1989.
Most of the relics looted from the seas and rivers often make their way abroad, and smugglers have been particularly rampant over the last two years, Shan says.
Art collectors and dealers across the world have become especially interested in China's underwater heritage since 2005, when about 15,000 relics, mainly 300-year-old blue-and-white porcelain, were found on a 13.5-m sunken ship off the coast of Fujian Province.
November 29, 2007
China to house shipwreck in underwater museum
China is building a giant underwater museum to preserve and exhibit an ancient shipwreck. The museum, the first of its kind in the world, is to contain a sunken ship more than 800 years old and its treasures.
Archaeologists say the ship is China’s most exciting underwater excavation. Named the Southern Sea Number One, it lies under 24 metres of water and two metres of sand and soil.
Archaeologists took more than 6,000 treasures from one small room on the ship in 2002. The Guangdong provincial government has now allocated £10 million to building a five hall underwater museum to preserve the wreck.
“We’ve estimated the ship to contain a total of 60,000 to 80,000 pieces of treasure,” says Wei Jun, director of the Guangdong Province Underwater Archeology Institute.
“Since the ship and its treasures have become accustomed to being underwater, it’s better to keep them there.” Experts say the ship may break up if it is exposed to air so they plan to put it into a 5,000 tonne steel container and then transport it into into the underwater museum. Construction work on the museum is well underway and it is expected to open to the public by the middle of next year.
More information about the Nanhai 1 at www.china.org