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Treasures wait in the deep

05-13-2010 09:15 BJT Special Report: Underwater archaeological investigation for Nan’ao No. 1 |

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According to the National Heritage Administration of China, the country's underwater archeology has made remarkable progress over the past twenty years or so. For a long time, it was a simple business of exploration and retrieval, but lately, the specialization has expanded its goals into the areas of protection and preservation. Let's find out what so many historians are holding their breath to see.

China has a coastline that extends more than 18,000 kilometers. Over the decades, the National Heritage Administration has paid more and more attention to the exploration for historical and cultural relics that, for whatever reason, ended up underwater.

In 1987, the Guangzhou Salvage Bureau and a British Exploration Company discovered the ancient merchant vessel Nanhai One off the coast of South China. But full-scale exploration didn't begin until 2000. From March to May of 2002, a team of divers retrieved over four-thousand artifacts from the sunken vessel. In December 2007, the whole wooden ship was lifted out of the water and placed in a specially built museum for spectators.

Another major discovery took place in the coastal waters of East China's Fujian province. In June 2005, local fishermen stumbled onto the 300-year-old Wan Jiao One, which sank carrying a huge load of valuable porcelains. Ten of the country's leading experts in underwater archeology were immediately assigned for the salvage mission. By its conclusion, the effort set a record for China's underwater archeology, retrieving some 16-thousand antique porcelains.

The latest statistics record more than 100 sites of underwater heritages, scattered across the whole length of China's coastline. Six of them have been designated major protected sites by the State Council.

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Editor:Yang Jie |Source:

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