Friday, June 15, 2007

A shipwreck laden with Ming porcelein has been found in China, and illustrates some of the points made in the Archaeology Magazine article (see above) about problems facing underater archaeology:

Chinese archaeologists have found an ancient sunken ship in the South China Sea laden with Ming Dynasty porcelain, the Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday.
Divers used satellite navigation equipment to find the vessel, dubbed South China sea II, which is about 17 to 18 meters (yards) long and lying at a depth of 20 meters."A preliminary study of the sunken ship shows it may have sunk 400 years ago after striking a reef," archaeologist Dr Wei Jun was quoted as saying.

The ship came to light when local police got wind of illegal salvage operations going on off the coast of Guangdong province. "On May 25, police learnt that some fishermen had been recovering ancient porcelain objects from the sea," Xinhua said.

Police confiscated 21 pieces of porcelain from a fishing boat whose owner claimed that divers he had hired for deep-sea fishing had recovered the porcelain by accident. On May 26, another 117 pieces of porcelain were confiscated from two fishing boats carrying out illegal salvage work. "Police stepped up monitoring of the area and warned local people not to loot the cultural relics. On June 1, two local residents handed over 124 porcelain items to police."

The sunken ship was found just a few days after China began salvage operations at another wreck site dating back to the days of the Song emperors, who ruled between AD 960 and 1279.