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The Sea Route: Nanhai I Shipwreck and Maritime Trade in the Southern Song Dynasty

Updated: May 18, 2020 Print
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The Sea Route: Nanhai I Shipwreck and Maritime Trade in the Southern Song Dynasty

Dates: May 18 - Aug 25, 2019
Location: Guangdong Museum,Guangzhou city, Guangdong province

Nanhai I, a fully-loaded Chinese merchant ship that sank in the South China Sea during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), is the oldest, largest and most well-preserved shipwreck so far around the world. It was salvaged from the bottom of the sea with over 180,000 cultural relics and moved into a tailored museum for detailed excavation, which is regarded as "a world-leading feat of underwater archaeology".

The exhibition is an all-round display of artifacts from the Nanhai I shipwreck. [Photo provided to]

As 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the first underwater investigation into Nanhai I, this exhibition was held to give anall-round display of findings from the shipwreck presented more than 400 representative relics to the public. Recovered cultural items include sink rubbings, ancient books, maps, ceramics, cinnabar, gold, bronze, iron, tin ware, coins, minerals and bone tools.

A variety of cultural relics from the shipwreck on display [Photo provided to]

The exhibition provided a broad picture of the historical background to the voyage, the cargo and crew’s life on the vessel, the latest discoveries and mysteries of the shipwreck, as well as the outstanding contributions made by all walks of society to preserve the cultural heritage.

The restored shipwreck site and underwater archaeological scenes gave the audience a sense of presence, as if they were actually aboard the vessel.

The exhibition gives a sense of presence to the audience by recreating stunning historical scenes. [Photo provided to]

Digging deep into the historical, artistic and scientific value of the shipwreck, the exhibition showed the prosperity of the Maritime Silk Road during the Southern Song Dynasty and the wisdom of the ancient Chinese. It also celebrated people's efforts to preserve the cultural heritage, promoted the Belt and Road initiative, and told the stories of China to the world.

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