China to salvage 400-year-old merchant vessel off southern coast

From China View

Chinese archaeologists will start later this year to salvage a ship thought to be a Ming Dynasty merchant vessel that sank off the Guangdong coast 400 years ago, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) said Wednesday.

The SACH approved the excavation plan early this year, it said in a statement to Xinhua. The administration hasn't yet announced all details of the salvage plan, but the Guangdong provincial cultural heritage department will organize an excavation team, the statement said.

The 10-meter-long ship was found buried in the silt on the sea floor, about 5.6 nautical miles offshore from Shantou City, Guangdong Province.

About 200 pieces of porcelain were recovered when the ship was found in 2007. The ship could have been carrying some 10,000 pieces of porcelain, most made during the reign of Emperor Wanli of the Ming Dynasty (1573-1620).

However, the earliest piece found so far dated back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

The ship was probably a Guangdong merchant vessel, since most of the porcelain items found so far were produced by local workshops, said Cui Yong, an archaeologist with the Guangdong Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Relics.

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Shantou city State Administration of Cultural Heritage Guangdong Ming Dynasty merchant vessel