Remains from a shipwreck in the Yangtze River estuary have been salvaged after more than a century, providing a peek at the ancient vessel and adding to China’s treasure of cultural relics unearthed over the years.
Known as Yangtze River Estuary No. 2 Ancient Vessel, the ship was brought to the surface early Monday in an area nearby Shanghai’s Hengsha Island, domestic media reported. The ship is said to have been underwater for some 150 years and is believed to be the largest and best preserved of its kind in China.
Chinese archeologists first detected the wooden ship, buried 5.5 meters deep, in 2015 and launched a high-tech salvage project in March of this year. They found its main structure, measuring 38.1 meters long and 9.9 meters wide at its broadest section, had 31 cabins in total and was largely intact.
A graphic image shows the the Yangtze River Estuary No. 2 Ancient Vessel buried in sludge 5.5 meters deep. VCG
Archaeologists have also found numerous cultural relics in and near the shipwreck. They include exquisite porcelain — estimated at about 8,000 pieces per cabin — made in China’s “porcelain capital” of Jingdezhen in the eastern province of Jiangxi, purple clay wares, and hookah pots made in Vietnam.
“The ship was loaded with many goods … It contains so much information that is equivalent to the ‘Along the River During Qingming Festival,’” Chu Xiaobo, director of Shanghai Museum, told domestic media, referring to a famous scroll painting that captures the extensive daily life of people during the 12th century in China.
Cultural relics found on the Yangtze River Estuary No. 2 Ancient Vessel. VCG
The underwater survey shows that the vessel dated back to the reign of the Tongzhi Emperor (1862-1875) from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and likely served as a flat-bottomed barge widely used for transporting via water and trade during the period.
The vessel is expected to be carried to a dock in the city’s Yangpu District on Friday for further research. The city also plans to convert the site into a shipwreck museum as part of its five-year plan of protecting and utilizing cultural relics that will run until 2025.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: The site to hoist the Yangtze River Estuary No. 2 Ancient Vessel in Shanghai, Nov. 21, 2022. Xinhua)