More than 30,000 pieces of antiques are expected to be salvaged from Nan’ao-1, an ancient merchant vessel that sank about 500 years ago off the coast of Guangdong Province.

About 10,000 pieces of newly salvaged antiques will be exhibited in the Nan’ao Museum in Shantou after the conclusion of an underwater archaeological mission, Huang Yingtao, director of the museum said.

The salvage operation, which started in June, was suspended due to the effects of typhoon Kai-Tak, which made landfall in the coastal area of Guangdong at noon on Friday.

This round of underwater archaeological work on Nan’ao-1 will finish by the end of September, head of the team of archaeologists Cui Yong told Xinhua news agency.

Archaeologists conducting the underwater work will measure the length of the wreck after the antiques are salvaged.

They had previously recovered over 20,000 antiques, including porcelain and copper coins, and identified 25 cabins.

The ship sank in the Sandianjin waters off Nan’ao County, Shantou, during the mid- or late-Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

The ship is believed to have been bound for the Philippines and Malaysia, Cui said.

Guangdong was a major centre for sea trade in ancient China.

Local fishermen found the wrecked ship, estimated at 25 meters in length and seven meters in width, in May 2007.

It was buried in silt 27 meters underwater and about 5.6 nautical miles from Shantou.

Experts said the antiques salvaged from the Nan’ao-1 provide evidence that the “Maritime Silk Road” once existed in the South China Sea.

(This article was published on August 19, 2012)
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