Second excavation of sunken vessel 'Nanhai No. 1' begins

17:01, March 22, 2011      

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Thirteen professionals have arrived at the Maritime Silk Road Museum of Guangdong Province and are preparing for the second indoor trial excavation of the sunken vessel "Nanhai No. 1," according to announcement made by the museum on March 21. The excavation is expected to last for around one month.

The second trial excavation will be carried out on the bow and stern of the ship and will verify which end is indeed the bow and stern. According to sources, the excavation will further perfect the indoor underwater archaeological parameters and make preparations for the full excavation plan.

Bu Gong, a researcher from the Guangdong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology (GPICRA) and the consultant for the second excavation, disclosed that the period of the 12th Five-Year Plan is a golden period for the full excavation of the sunken ship, but the first thing that must be done is to finish the plan for the full excavation. Therefore, the information acquired from this excavation will be very important.

Liu Zhiyuan, the vice director of the GPICRA's Underwater Department and the team leader of the second excavation, told the press that this excavation will be open to the public for the first time. Visitors at the museum will be able to watch the entire process of the archaeological excavation.

The first trial excavation of the "Nanhai No. 1" was conducted between Aug. 18 and Sept. 27 in 2009. The location of the first trial excavation was in the middle part of the ship where there were four square excavation units with an area of 4 square meters each. The first trial excavation uncovered more than 200 pieces of porcelain and met the expected targets.

The team of the documentary "Nanhai No. 1," formed by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and China Central Television (CCTV), held a commencement ceremony at the Guangdong Maritime Silk Road Museum on March 20. The documentary will use HDTV equipment for the first time to record the entire shipwreck excavation process from discovery, salvage and protection of the latest trial archeological excavation.

The "Nanhai No.1," which sank during the Southern Song Dynasty, is 30.4 meters long and 9.8 meters wide. It is the earliest, largest and most intact ocean trade shipwreck that has been discovered in the world and contains a massive amount of historical information.

In April 2007, the salvage of the "Nanhai No.1" was officially initiated and the entire shipwreck was pulled out on Dec. 27 of the same year before being placed into the "crystal palace" of the Guangdong Maritime Silk Road Museum on Hailing Island of Yangjiang, Guangdong on Dec. 28. Archaeological experts said it will take at least five to 10 years to sort out the 60,000 to 80,000 antiques after opening the sunken cases in the shipwreck.

By Wang Hanlu, People's Daily Online
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