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Depths of understanding

By Wang Ru | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-12-19 07:36
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An archaeologist cleans an artifact from the shipwreck, which was located in the Shengbeiyu sea off Zhangzhou, Fujian province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Shipwreck provides archaeologists with new clues to the extent of trade 700 years ago.

About 700 years ago, a Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) ship heavily loaded with porcelain sank in what is now the Shengbeiyu sea area near Gulei Peninsula, Zhangzhou, Fujian province. Despite the loss of the valuable cargo, the ill-fated ship was gradually forgotten with the passage of time.

That was, until recently.

In 2010, a typhoon made landfall in the Gulei Peninsula, washing breeding boxes into the sea. When divers tried to salvage the boxes, they were surprised to find scattered porcelain items. Intrigued, a search was launched and the shipwreck was discovered.

In 2014, 2016 and 2021, three archaeological surveys were conducted on the shipwreck, to confirm its location, state of preservation, and gauge the surrounding environment.

After estimating its value for research, a new archaeological effort, initiated last year, was carried out by the National Centre for Archaeology, the Fujian Provincial Institute of Archaeology and the Zhangzhou bureau of culture and tourism to retrieve cultural relics from it. The latest discoveries were announced at a news conference held by the National Cultural Heritage Administration in October.

The shipwreck, located in a trench, lies about 30 meters under the surface. Remains include the body of the vessel and scattered cargo, covering an area of about 300 square meters.

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