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Ancient ship back in business

12-25-2009 10:19 BJT

YANGJIANG, Guangdong: A major underwater museum housing an 800-year-old merchant ship opened to the public in this coastal city in western Guangdong province yesterday.

The 30-m wooden vessel, named Nanhai No 1, or South China Sea No 1, lies in a "crystal palace" made of glass inside the Maritime Silk Road Museum.

"Today marks a new journey for the ancient merchant ship," said Shan Jixiang, director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

Tourists watch the excavation of relics from the 13th-century Chinese ship, Nanhai No 1, at the Maritime Silk Road Museum in Hailing island of Yangjiang, Guangdong province, yesterday. [China Daily]
Tourists watch the excavation of relics from the 13th-century Chinese
ship, Nanhai No 1, at the Maritime Silk Road Museum in Hailing island
of Yangjiang, Guangdong province, yesterday. [China Daily]

It was discovered early in 1987 off Hailing island of Yangjiang.

The debut of the ship will help Chinese scientists better conduct underwater archaeology and discover China's maritime and porcelain history, Shan said.

The ship has been kept in water, but the environmental conditions, including the temperature, constituents and pressure, remain the same as the waters where it was found, said Shan.

"The ship looks like it did before it was raised from the sea, and we built two underwater sightseeing corridors and a platform in the glass pool," Shan said.

The vessel was moved to the pool after it was salvaged from the sea two years ago.

The Guangdong provincial government invested nearly 200 million yuan ($29 million) for the construction of the 12,200-sq-m museum, which started in 2005 and was completed last month.

It also displayed several hundred precious relics salvaged from the wreck. The exhibits are only a fraction of some 6,000 items, mostly porcelain, found during initial excavations between August and September.

"We hope more visitors can appreciate archaeologists' efforts in the discovery of the ship. The museum will allow more people to know more about rare and traditional Chinese treasures," Shan said.

Also yesterday, archaeologists were busy excavating relics from the ship.

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