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Ancient ship to be lifted
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After 800 years on the seabed, the Nanhai No 1 is now just weeks away from being lifted from the water, an official said on Wednesday.

Jing Lihu, deputy director of the Guangdong culture department, said the sunken cargo vessel should be lifted out of the water by the end of the year.

The plan is then for the ancient ship to go on show to the public in the second half of 2008, he said.

"Salvage work is nearing an end and the relics we are recovering are more varied and exciting than we expected," Jing said during a radio program.

He said the ship has an estimated 80,000 cultural relics, including porcelain, gold artifacts, copper coins, jewelry and copper mirrors from the Southern Song Dynasty (AD 1127-1279).

About 6,000 items have already been salvaged.

The ship was found by accident in 1987 by the Guangzhou salvage bureau and a British underwater salvage company.

For more than 800 years, its home has been 20 m under the sea, 30 nautical miles (56 km) west of Hailing island, near the city of Yangjiang.

The 30-m-long ship is the first ancient vessel to have been discovered on the "Marine Silk Road" in the South China Sea, and the largest Song Dynasty cargo ship ever discovered in China.

Salvage operations began in May after three years of planning. Typhoons have delayed work.

Chen Zhiyue, vice-mayor of Yangjiang, said the city is building a museum for the ship and its treasure trove.

The museum is due to be completed by the end of the year. It cost about 160 million yuan ($21.4 million) to build and covers an area of more than 19,400 sq m.

(China Daily November 2, 2007)


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