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Construction of Marine Silk Road Museum Begins
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Construction of the Nanhai No. 1 Museum, designed to display a first ancient vessel discovered on the "Marine Silk Road" of the South China Sea, has begun in Yangjiang city, south China's Guangdong Province on December 28, 2005.

The museum, also named "China's Marine Silk Road Museum", will open to the public in 2007. It will mainly exhibit the merchant ship of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), namely the Nanhai No.1, and thousands of historical wares it carried.

The salvage work of the ship will go side by side with the museum construction, which is expected to complete by the end of 2006.

The 25-meter-long Nanhai No.1 sank 20 nautical miles off the Hailing Island of Yangjiang city. It is reportedly the earliest and best-preserved merchant ship discovered in the world.

Green glazed porcelain plates, blue porcelain pottery and other rarities have been found during the initial exploration of the ship. Archaeologists estimate that there are probably 60,000 to 80,000 relics on the ship.

Chinese marine archaeologists began to use a huge "steel basket" to salvage the ship on Dec. 28, 2005. The ship will be moved to a glass-walled exhibition hall filled with seawater, imitating the undersea environment to preserve the ancient ship.

As early as 2,000 years ago, ancient Chinese traders began to ship chinaware, silk and cloth textiles and other commodities to foreign countries along a trading route starting from ports at today's Guangdong and Fujian provinces to countries in southeast Asia, Africa and Europe.

The cargo ship was found in 1987. Experts said the excavation of the ship is of great importance to the research of the history of China's foreign trade, cultural exchange, porcelain, shipbuilding and navigation.

(Xinhua News Agency January 1, 2006)

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