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China's Titanic to 'sail' into glasshouse
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08:52, December 21, 2007

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YANGJIANG, Guangdong: A sunken ship from the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the largest Chinese wreck discovered from that period, will be hauled from its watery grave tomorrow.

Dubbed the "Titanic of China", the ship was heavily laden with a cargo of ceramic, gold and jewel exports when she sank.

The 30-m-long vessel went down with 80,000 cultural relics aboard about 60 km west of Hailing Island near Yangjiang more than eight centuries ago.

Labeled Nanhai No 1, the shipwreck will be salvaged by professionals under the Ministry of Communications (MOC) and the Guangdong salvage bureau.

The rare historical retrieval will be broadcast live on television across the nation.

After it breaches the surface, the wooden wreck will be housed in a huge iron container, which, together with seabed mud encasing the find, will weigh about the same as 15 train carriages, ministry officials told China Daily.

The shipwreck and its rich treasure will be loaded on a cargo ship to be ferried next week to a specially built glass house on the beach of Yangjiang.

The eagerly anticipated treasures will be guarded heavily at every stage, from retrieval to preservation.

Archaeologists will spend two years inside the glasshouse, painstakingly unveiling the nautical discovery and carefully removing her relics.

Several hundred reporters from around the world and thousands of others involved in the operation have descended on the small costal city of Yangjiang.

They have come to see the recovery of the first ancient vessel discovered beneath the "Marine Silk Road".

Historians expect it to shed light on China's centuries at sea, which only a limited number of surviving documents and salvaged artifacts have hitherto shed light on.

The findings may bolster a school of thought in the academic world that China's international contacts were built more at sea than over land.

According to Chen Gaohua, academician and historian at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, ancient China's sea trade blossomed in the 10th century.

"Contrary to traditional beliefs, shipping lanes were much more important than the Silk Road in linking the East and West," he said.

Source: China Daily



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