Two shipwrecks from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), one laden with thousands of pristine porcelain objects, the other with wood logs, have been discovered under the South China Sea. The shipwrecks were discovered last October at a depth of 1,500 meters.
With the wreck of Ship No. 1, the remains of the ship itself are mostly obscured by tens of thousands of porcelain artifacts intended for export trade. The porcelain is so dense that there are stacked and nested vessels six feet deep covering 10,000 square meters (2.5 acres). Archaeologists estimate there are more than 100,000 individual pieces. Analysis of a few of the pieces suggest they were produced during the Zhentoku era (1506-1521).hip No. 2 was carrying raw wood. The timbers were uniform in size and carefully stacked. Initial analysis of the wood indicates the ship was a Chinese importer bringing in wood supplies from overseas in the Meiji-Koji era (1488-1505). They were likely intended for use in ship-building.
This is the first time a ship with export cargo and one with import cargo have been found in the same area. It is evidence of how well-established and widely-frequented in both directions sea routes were along the Maritime Silk Road. The two neighboring wrecks provide researchers a unique opportunity to study two-way traffic in the South China Sea 500 years ago.
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