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700-year-old antiques recovered from shipwreck

Wednesday, June 05, 2013, 16:32 GMT+7

Many antiques dating back from the 13th century were recovered from the shipwreck off central Quang Ngai province’s Binh Son district after a painstaking excavation that kicked off on June 4.

Though the shipwreck is located less than 300 m from the seashore, it took over five months to put stakes around it due to unfavorable elements.

In still, clear seawater, the antiques could be easily seen from above.

According to Dr. Nguyen Dinh Chien, vice head of the Vietnam History Museum, unlike the antique excavations from five previous shipwrecks, in which the work took one or two years due to underwater excavation methods, this excavation is less time-consuming and safer thanks to a new method.

Two powerful generators were used, with one sucking in sand and the other pumping seawater out while stakes and planks were used to keep water from rushing in.

After almost two hours, the site was completely drained out, exposing the shipwreck.

Excavators from Doan Anh Duong, the company in charge of excavating the antiques, each bent down and picked up the pieces with great care.

The antiques include bowls, plates and jars, which are ingeniously decorated with intricate patterns.

According to Dr. Doan Ngoc Khoi, vice head of the Quang Ngai museum, there is a high likelihood that the wrecked centuries-old ship was a merchant ship which came from the north and stopped by the area to seek shelter from storms before sinking.

In this same area, locals had earlier discovered three other wrecked ships carrying antiques of various types, with most being potteries from China’s Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and later dynasties.

“In the past, though the Binh Chau sea area wasn’t a bustling port, it was characterized by big, unseasonable storms. As the strait was also on the pottery and silk road, merchant ships would anchor here to seek shelter from storms and sink,” Khoi elaborated.

The excavation will continue for a month before the entire antiques are taken to the provincial museum, said Nguyen Dang Vu, head of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

There are two options to deal with the wrecked ship, which measures some 24 m in length and 5m in width.

The first option, which is quite costly, is that its separate parts will be recovered, assembled and displayed at the museum.

The other is that the ship will stay put and be preserved and turned into an in-situ tourist attraction.

Tuoi Tre

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