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Journeys in time 2010-5-18 National Treasures (23) -New skills in archaeological studies

05-18-2010 16:27 BJT


Back in 1983, at a large thermal power plant in the Shouyang (首阳) Mountain area of Yanshi ( 偃师) in Henan Province, a debate took place between a group of archaeologists and the construction department. The archaeologists produced hundreds of aerial photographs, revealing the presence of some palace ruins, which they believed dated back 3000 years. Well, the archaeologists prevailed, and the ruins were preserved. Their victory was significant for another reason; it resulted in the development of satellite remote sensing and aerial photography for archaeological purposes. However, this breakthrough was achieved, only after numerous difficulties had been overcome.

Michael Hatcher is a world-famous salvage diver, explorer and treasure hunter. But in Chinese underwater archaeological circles, his name equates with disaster. In 1984 and 1999, Hatcher discovered the wrecks of two ancient Chinese merchant vessels in the South China Sea. The thousands of pieces of valuable porcelain he salvaged from them earned him more than US$50 million.

Underwater sites are invariably difficult to access, and working there is far more hazardous compared with on dry land. Underwater sites are described as dynamic, in that they are subject to the movement of currents, surf and tidal flows. Structures can be uncovered one moment, and then buried beneath sediment the next. Visibility may be poor, due to sediment or algae in the water and a lack of light. All these problems confronted Zhang Wei (张威) in locating the shipwreck.

In the course of ten years, the professional underwater archaeological research team has conducted several investigations and excavations of ship-wreck sites in the sea areas around China. At the same time, China’s own underwater technology and equipment has developed to reach the international.

Editor:James |Source: CNTV.CN

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