Friday, 20 April 2012

China to restart sunken ancient ship salvage

Archaeologists announced on Saturday they will resume an operation to salvage artifacts from Nan'ao-1, an ancient merchant vessel sank in waters off the southern province of Guangdong about 500 years ago.
Relics salvaged from sunken ancient ship
Archeologists clean up porcelain artifacts salvaged from the sunken ancient ship Nan'ao No 1 in Shantou, Guangdong Province in 2010 [Xinhua]

Set to start in late April or early May, this will be the third bout of salvage work on the wreck. Archaeologists have recovered over 20,000 antique pieces, including porcelain and copper coins, in the first two rounds.
The ship sank in the Sandianjin waters off Nan'ao county, Shantou city in the mid or late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It is thought that it was heading for the Philippines and Malaysia, said Cui Yong, who heads the team of archaeologists.
Guangdong was a major center for the sea trade in ancient China.
Some experts believe the ship may have been smuggling as copper in sheet and coin form was excavated from the wreck, and exports of the metal were banned at the time.
Many ancient Chinese dynasties, including the Ming Dynasty, banned the export of copper as the metal was precious and mainly used to manufacture coins, a major currency, in ancient China.
However, archaeologists will only be able to agree on that speculation when the salvage operation, currently 50 percent complete, is finished.
That will hopefully happen this year, according to Cui.
Local fishermen found the wreck, estimated to be about 25 meters long and seven meters wide, in May 2007. It was buried in silt 27 meters under water and about 5.6 nautical miles from Shantou city.

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