Hoard of relics salvaged from ancient Chinese ship

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Beijing, Jan 10 (IANS) More than 14,000 relics have been retrieved from an ancient cargo ship after it was salvaged from a depth of 30 metres below the surface of the South China Sea in late 2007, Chinese archaeologists said on Saturday.

Most of the relics are porcelain products, such as pots, bottles, bowls and plates produced by then famous kilns in places now known as Jiangxi, Fujian and Zhejiang, said Liu Chengji, deputy head of the Guangdong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Xinhua reported.

As of January 5, archaeologists have also excavated hundreds of gold, silver and copper relics and about 17,000 copper coins.

“The cargo composition of the vessel is clearer and the diversity is rich,” said Liu at the Marine Silk Road Museum specially built to preserve the vessel, in Hailing island of Yangjiang city, Guangdong.

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The well-preserved ship dates back to the early Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). The remains were about 22 metres long and nine metres wide. It was named “Nanhai No. 1” meaning “South China Sea No. 1”.

According to Liu, some relics had the names of shops and places, which he believed reflected the developed commercial economy during the dynasty.

“Some personal belongings, such as bracelets, finger rings and necklaces, were also discovered. These items showed the vessel had a certain number of merchants and passengers aboard,” said Sun Jian, technical director of the Underwater Cultural Heritage Protection Centre of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

According to Sun, the ship was a short and fat model that was widely used in ancient times, designed with high safety standards, a good ability to resist waves and a big freight load.

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The excavation inside the vessel will be completed in 2016.

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