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Undersea Excavation Reveals Bounteous Booty
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This undated photo shows Chinese archaeologists working in undersea conditions, excavating a shipwreck in the South China Sea. Part of the cultural relics excavated from the "Huaguangjiao No.1" were shown to the media in Haikou, capital of south China's Hainan province on Tuesday, May 8, 2007.

A Chinese archeology team has finished excavation work on an ancient shipwreck off the Xisha islands in the South China Sea, and revealed bounteous results.

This is the first time that China has conducted undersea excavation work in the open seas.

Zhang Wei, director of the marine archeology research center of the Chinese National Museum, said the excavation started on March 15th and lasted for 55 days, excavating over 10,000 cultural relics.

The excavation of "Huaguangjiao No.1" was well-prepared and conducted with precision, marking a significant milestone in China's undersea archaeology history.

Relics found at the site include green glazed porcelain plates, shadowy blue porcelains and other rare antiques.

It is believed to have been a merchant ship built in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

The sunken ship, measuring 20m in length, 6m in width, and with an estimated displacement of 60 tons, was discovered in the 1990s - as the first vessel China discovered in the open seas.

Named "Huaguangjiao No. 1", meaning Huangguang Reef No.1, the shipwreck has important significance in the process of researching ancient China's Maritime Silk Road.

"Huaguangjiao No.1 and Nanhai No.1, which is currently being excavated off the coast of south China's Guangdong province, are two pearls along the ancient Maritime Silk Road. The two have equal significance," Zhang Wei said, "but Huaguangjiao No.1 is located in the open seas, and is more difficult to excavate."

Located 330 kilometers southeast of south China's Hainan Province, the Xisha Islands are one of four large island groups in the South China Sea.
( May 9, 2007)

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