Booty-laden sunken vessel found in Mentawai waters

By Irwan Firdays - The Jakarta Globe

A sunken ship that may be several centuries old and contain gray and green ceramics has been found off the Mentawai Islands, officials said on Thursday.

Fishermen who found the vessel believe the Oct. 26 tsunami, which killed more than 500 people there, lifted the 7-meter long ship from the sea floor and pushed it closer to shore, said Yosmeri, West Sumatra’s maritime and fisheries agency chief.

For centuries, wooden ships laden with ceramic pots, golden necklaces and valuable spices navigated Indonesian waters, a key trade route linking Asia with Europe and the Middle East.

Hundreds are said to litter the seabed off West Sumatra.

The pots, jugs and bowls found last week still need to be tested to determine their origin and age, Yosmeri said.

But he added that they were similar to 14th-century artifacts found inside sunken Chinese vessels.

Local fisherman say they found the wooden ship after spotting its mast 6 kilometers from the beach off Pagai Island, hardest hit by the October tsunami.

They dove into the water and emerged with several well-preserved jugs and pots found in the hull, which they said was laden with more treasures.

Pictures of the artifacts have been sent to Jakarta and teams will be sent to the area soon to carry out a more extensive search, according to Yosmeri.


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