A merchant boat, dubbed the Nanhai No.
1, or "South China Sea No. 1," is raised from the depths of the South
China Sea in south China's Guangdong Province, on Dec. 21, 2007. The
ancient merchant boat loaded with porcelain, which sank off the south
China coast 800 years ago, was placed onto a waiting barge and will be
hoisted on Saturday. (Xinhua Photo)
YANGJIANG, Guangdong Province, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- An
800-year-old merchant boat raised from the South China Sea on Friday is well
protected, an expert said here on Saturday.
An early examination showed the 30-meter-long vessel,
"Nanhai No. 1", wrapped in a huge sealed steel box with tons of seawater and
silt, was "perfectly protected" during the lifting process, said Wu Jiancheng,
chief of the archaeological project.
"We haven't seen any silt or water leakage from the
box. The boat is still in almost the same environment as it has been over the
The box carrying the boat was raised to the surface
on Friday for reinforcement and was fully hoisted out of the water on Saturday
The whole salvage process went smoothly and the box
was neither shaking nor leaning, according to Wu.
The barge carrying Nanhai No. 1, meaning "South China
Sea No. 1", was to be temporarily docked on Sunday. The boat was then to be put
on a huge air bed and sent to a specially-built museum, according to the salvage
"The boat is expected to arrive at its new home in
two or three days," Wu said.
Plans called for the boat to be placed in a glass
pool at a specially- built museum named the "Crystal Palace" where the water
temperature, pressure and other environmental conditions were the same as where
the ship had rested on the sea bed.
The pool was 64 meters long, 40 meters wide and 23
meters high. It contained seawater and was about 12 meters in depth.
"It will be sealed after the ship and the silt are
put in," said Feng Shaowen, head of the cultural bureau of Yangjiang City,
"The excavation work will not be carried out
immediately and it may last quite a long time. We want to make sure before
carrying out any excavation."
Guangdong has earmarked 150 million yuan (20.3
million U.S. dollars) to build a "Marine Silk Road Museum" to preserve the
salvaged ancient ship.
The new museum, run by the Yangjiang municipal
government, was expected to open to the public by the end of next year. Visitors
would be able to watch the on-going excavation of the ship through windows on
two sides of the pool, Feng said.
Discovered in the summer of 1987 off the coast near
Yangjiang City, Nanhai No.1 was recognized as one of the oldest and biggest
Chinese merchant boats sunk at sea.
To date, archaeologists had recovered more than 4,000
containers made of gold, silver and porcelain, as well as about 6,000 copper
coins from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) when the boat was built.
Wu estimated that there were still 60,000 to 80,000
items on board.
According to Huang Zongwei, a professor with the
Guangdong-based Sun Yat-Sen University, the boat was proof of the existence of a
"Marine Silk Road".
As early as 2,000 years ago, ancient Chinese traders
began taking china, silk and cloth textiles and other commodities to foreign
countries along the trading route. It started from ports at today's Guangdong
and Fujian provinces to countries in southeast Asia, Africa and Europe.
"The 'Marine Silk Road', like the ancient Silk Road
that connected China with south, west and central Asia and Europe, was also a
bridge for connecting Eastern and Western cultures," Huang said. "But evidence
for existence of the path was rare."
Chinese team ready to salvage
800-year-old ship on "Marine Silk Road"
YANGJIANG, Guangdong Province, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- A
Chinese salvage team is getting ready to recover the wreckage of an ancient
merchant ship loaded with exquisite porcelain from the South China sea on
"If the weather is cooperative, the boat, which has been
in the sea for about 800 years, will see the light of day again two days later,"
said Wu Jiancheng, head of the excavation project. Full story