Remains of a trading port in Central Vietnam

Archaeologists working in Central Vietnam’s Binh Dinh province have discovered the remains of a trading port that was in use during the 17-19th centuries.

Ceramic piece from China, c. 17-18th centuries. Source: Viet Nam Net 20160726
Ceramic piece from China, c. 17-18th centuries. Source: Viet Nam Net 20160726

Ancient Binh Dinh port unearthed
Viet Nam Net, 26 July 2016

Archaeological evidence of an old trading port have been found at a recent excavation conducted in the central Binh Dinh Province.

The research was carried out by scientists from the Vietnam Archaeology Institute and the local provincial museum.
Researcher Bui Van Hieu from the institute, who led the excavation, said though the area excavated this time was not large, scientists found thousands of evidence and objects valuable to studying the whole site.

Full story here.

Anchor and cannon found off Hong Kong

Divers in Hong Kong discovered a large anchor stock and a cannon, the former dating to the Song Dynasty.

Hong Kong’s sunken treasure: ancient anchor and cannon reveal our rich maritime history
South China Morning Post, 19 July 2016

Two monumental artefacts were recovered over the weekend by a local diving group, marking a maritime heritage milestone for Hong Kong.

A diving team from the Hong Kong Underwater Heritage Group recovered an anchor stock – the upper part of an anchor – around Basalt Island, and a cannon off the coast of High Island. The anchor stock is believed to date back to the Song Dynasty, making it over 1,000 years old – Hong Kong’s oldest marine artefact.

“It’s important for Hong Kong’s [maritime] history because it’s evidence to show that Hong Kong is a location worth investigating,” Dr Libby Chan Lai-pik, senior curator at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum said. The museum is a sponsor of the Underwater Heritage Group.

“The anchor is proof that Hong Kong was perhaps quite advanced during the Song Dynasty in terms of water transport and commercial trade.”

Full story here.

Discovered boat dates to Angkorian period

Radiocarbon dating of a dugout boat discovered in Angkor indicates it was from the 13th century.

13th century boat found in Angkor. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160727
13th century boat found in Angkor. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160727

Tests confirm Angkor boat made in 1207 AD
Phnom Penh Post, 27 June 2016

Boat Estimated to be 800 Years Old
Khmer Times, 27 June 2016

A boat unearthed at a construction site in Siem Reap’s Angkor Thom district in April was made in 1207 AD, according to carbon dating results announced on Friday.

The 809-year-old vessel was carved from a single tree trunk during the reign of King Jayavarman VII.

Apsara Authority spokesman Long Kosal said the results, produced by a radio carbon dating lab in New Zealand, were announced at the biannual meeting of the International Coordinating Committee for Angkor.

“I believe this is the oldest boat that has been found so far,” Kosal said.

Full stories here and here.

Dugout discovered in Siem Reap

The remains of a dugout boat, some 13m long, was discovered in Siem Reap and is being investigated for its archaeological potential.

Dugout boat found in the Angkor Thom district. Phnom Penh Post, 20160411
Dugout boat found in the Angkor Thom district. Phnom Penh Post, 20160411

Boat found at Siem Reap work site could be ancient artefact
Phnom Penh Post, 11 April 2016

Archaeology authorities are eagerly waiting to discover the true age of a potentially ancient boat after it was dredged up from the sandy depths in Siem Reap on Friday afternoon.

The 12.83-metre vessel was carved out from a single tree trunk and was unearthed some 7 metres underground at a construction site in Angkor Thom district, Apsara Authority spokesperson Long Kosal said.

A sample of the rare find has been sent for carbon dating to determine its age.

“From our point of view, this is the first boat of its kind that we’ve seen,” Kosal said.

“We cannot make any assumption or conclusion … but we believe this could be from ancient times.”

The boat is now lying submerged in the moat around Angkor Wat for preservation.

Full story here.

Nanhai No. 1 reveals details of the maritime silk route

A feature on the ongoing excavation of the Nanhai No. 1, a shipwreck discovered off the coast of Guangdong province in China.

Feature: Ancient shipwreck unlocks secrets of Maritime Silk Road
Xinhua, 02 Feb 2016

The Maritime Silk Road, like the ancient Silk Road, was not only a route of trade, but of communication among civilizations.

“Coastal Guangdong holds the DNA of China’s external exchanges and trade,” says Long Jiayou, director with the Guangdong Provincial Cultural Heritage Bureau.

Guangdong had the longest history and most external associations of the Chinese regions on the route.

“Guangdong is also on the route of China’s Belt and Road initiative with its long history and massive overseas trade volume,” says Long.

The Belt and Road Initiative aims to boost connectivity and common development along the ancient land and maritime Silk Roads.

The excavation of the Nanhai No. 1 adds historic significance.

“It has brought China new concepts, innovative methods and technologies in underwater archeology. Moreover, it is a crucial model for the protection of relics along the Maritime Silk Road,” says Long.

Full story here.

14,000 artefacts recovered from Nanhai No. 1

Chinese archaeologists report that over 14,00 artefacts have so far been recovered from the Nanhai No. 1, a Song Dynasty era ship that was recovered from the South China Sea.

Hoard of relics salvaged from ancient Chinese ship
Business Standard, 10 January 2016

Ancient Chinese ship yields hoards of relics
The Hindu, 10 January 2016

China: 14,000 gold, silver and copper relics recovered from 800-year-old shipwreck
International Business Times, 11 January 2016

14,000 relics recovered from ancient Chinese ship
CNTV.cn, 12 January 2016

More than 14,000 relics have been retrieved from an ancient cargo ship after it was salvaged from a depth of 30 metres below the surface of the South China Sea in late 2007, Chinese archaeologists said on Saturday.

Most of the relics are porcelain products, such as pots, bottles, bowls and plates produced by then famous kilns in places now known as Jiangxi, Fujian and Zhejiang, said Liu Chengji, deputy head of the Guangdong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Xinhua reported.

As of January 5, archaeologists have also excavated hundreds of gold, silver and copper relics and about 17,000 copper coins.

Full story here.

PhD Scholarship in Underwater Archaeology

The Honor Frost Foundation and Flinders University is offering two three-year PhD Scholarships in Underwater Archaeology, one for a citizen of an Eastern Mediterranean country, but the other is open to citizens of any country. Applications close 7 December 2015.

Details here.

Hoi An holds shipwreck exhibition

An exhibition in the the heritage town of Hoi An showcases a vast array of artefacts retrieved from Vietnam’s waters in recent years.

Shipwreck exhibition in Quang Nam. Source: Tuoi Tre News 20150913
Shipwreck exhibition in Quang Nam. Source: Tuoi Tre News 20150913

Exhibition dedicated to shipwreck artifacts taking place in central Vietnam
Tuoi Tre News, 13 September 2015

Over 1,000 time-honored objects and specimens retrieved from sea wreckage are being displayed in a newly inaugurated exhibition hall in the central province of Quang Nam.

The People’s Committee of Hoi An City, home to the UNESCO-recognized Hoi An Ancient Town, on Saturday opened the hall, housed in a storm shelter structure in Tan Hiep Commune.

The space is dedicated to preserving and displaying articles scooped up from shipwrecks off Cu Lao Cham Island, 15km off the province’s coast, and its neighboring waters.

Full story here.

Remains of watercraft reported from Kedah archaeological site

Archaeologists in Malaysia working at the Sungei Batu archaeological site have reportedly discovered the remains of several shipwrecks, but funds are lacking to investigate further. The finds are consistent with previous work at the site which has uncovered the presence of jetties and the former river in the area.

Sungei Batu Archaeological Site
Sungei Batu Archaeological Site

Ancient Ships Discovered At Sungai Batu Archaeological Site
Bernama, 31 August 2015

Ancient shipwrecks find may force a rewrite of SEA history
The Star, 02 September 2015

Using ground penetrating radar, archaelogists have discovered outlines of more than five ships between 5m and 10m underground at the Sungai Batu Archaelogical Site, near Semeling, about 20km from here.

“This was once an ancient river with a width of about 100m and a depth of 30m. Now it is a swampy wetland,” said archaelogical team member Azman Abdullah.

Signs of the first shipwreck was unearthed in 2011 not far from the ruins of a jetty made of flattish square bricks.

“We dug until we found a 2m-long mast head lying horizontally. The wood had softened but it was still miraculously well preserved.

“We were excited and dug through the wet mud every day,” said Azman, 54. To the team’s horror, the excavation pit collapsed in 2012 after they reached a depth of 5m.

Fulls stories here and here.

China’s archaeology ship seeks buried sovereignty

China’s archaeology research vessel, the Kaogu-01, comes with all the bells and whistles, but its deployment in the South China Sea is a source of concern to the maritime nations of Southeast Asia as it is being used to enforce China’s territorial claims far beyond its shores.

Update: A reader pointed out that the link was missing. They are up now!

Archaeology and the South China Sea
The Diplomat, 20 July 2015

In 2013, China enforced those claims on an unsuspecting French archaeologist and his team investigating the wreck of a Chinese junk off the Philippine coast. According to one report, a Chinese twin-prop plane flew overhead. Then a Chinese marine-surveillance vessel approached the Philippines-registered ship, issuing instructions in English to turn around and head back. While it is difficult to say where exactly this incident actually happened, it does go to show that China is both willing and able to use force to enforce its sovereignty claims over shipwrecks and other relics in disputed waters.

China has also turned to the use of passive technology to protect its cultural relics. According to Yu Xingguang, Director of the State Oceanic Administrations Number 3 Research Facility, China has finished developing the technology for monitoring buoys, which employ acoustics technology to survey underwater wrecks and monitor their condition, while also simultaneously using China’s Automatic Identification System (AIS) to identify and monitor ships entering and exiting the area of wrecks in real time.

Enforcing its sovereignty claims off the Philippines is one obvious way that China is using maritime archaeology to assert and protect its sovereignty. Another method apparently used is much more subtle. It involves the use of China’s new ship, Kaogu-01, in disputed areas to assert its control over them, as well as the gradual buildup of work stations and bases in the area, such as the one planned for Yongxing Island.

Full story here.