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Shipwreck yields treasures dating from 14th century

Update: September, 17/2012 - 09:53

 

Dishes: Ceramic objects found on the seabed in Binh Chau Commune, Binh Son District, consist of numerous bowls, incense burners and ceramics. Their conditions vary, but many feature beautiful enamel and decorative patterns. — Photo Quang Ngai Newspaper
QUANG NGAI (VNS)— Experts have confirmed that relics retrieved from a shipwreck in the central province of Quang Ngai date back to the 14th century, making them among the oldest underwater antiques Viet Nam has ever discovered.

The objects found on the seabed in Binh Chau Commune, Binh Son District, consist of numerous bowls, incense burners and ceramics. Their conditions vary, but many feature "beautiful" enamel and "abundant" decorative patterns.

After examining the objects, archaeologists concluded the ceramic wares came from14th century China in the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368).

Nguyen Dinh Chien, deputy director of the Viet Nam National Museum of History, noted that the enamel and decorative patterns showed the objects were produced late in the Yuan dynasty, making them older than several other recent finds.

Antiques retrieved from five earlier wrecks found nearby were mostly of the 15th century, he said.

According to researcher Doan Ngoc Khoi, deputy director of the Quang Ngai History.Museum, the area was on a sea trade route hundreds of years ago, which many Chinese ships would pass to reach the Indian Ocean.

The latest ship was actually discovered accidentally by local fishermen, who then stole various objects from the wreck to sell.

The objects were then seized by local authorities, who brought in a team of archaeologists.

Among the objects found, a block of 11 ceramic sinks has proved to be of particular interest. Experts believe the sinks are stuck to one another due to enamel burning at high temperatures.

The stuck sinks showed that the ship might have caught fire or exploded before being wrecked, sharing a similar fate with the five earlier wrecks discovered.

The objects were found deep under the sand of seabed and experts claim that the cracks on them are fairly new. They believe that the whole body of the wreck is intact under the sand and that surfacing the ship would offer a unique opportunity to study the wood material and ship-building techniques of the time.

"We have had no chance to study earlier wrecks as they were all in shallow water area and easily destroyed by time," Chien said, "That's why we hope to study this ship further, as it may be the oldest ever found in Viet Nam.

"Archaeologists are interested in many small details on the ceramic objects and the ship, especially the coins, which will help to accurately date and chart the history of the ship.

"We hope to get further support from local authorities and co-ordination with leading experts to uncover more secrets."

The objects are now stored at Quang Ngai History Museum for further research. — VNS

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