Teams dive to great depths to bring back lost relics

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By WANG XIAODONG

Ex­perts with Chi­nese sal­vage teams in the South China Sea say they are work­ing hard to pro­tect trea­sure and cul­tural relics buried be­neath the waves.

“We’ve suc­cess­fully raised the Nan­hai-1 in­tact out of the wa­ter, and we’re con­fi­dent we can sal­vage other sim­i­lar ships,” said Hong Chong, di­rec­tor of the Guangzhou Sal­vage Bureau.

The bureau has con­ducted more than 160 suc­cess­ful emer­gency sal­vage mis­sions since it was founded in 2003, most of them in the South China Sea.

Hong said that more than 800 an­cient ves­sels lie at the bot­tom of the sea, al­though other ex­perts sug­gest the num­ber could be in ex­cess of 1,000. The sea was an im­por­tant part of the so- called Marine Silk Road, China’s south­ern pas­sage to the out­side world in an­cient times.

In 2007, Guangzhou Sal­vage Bureau sal­vaged the Nan­hai-1, a 30.4-me­ter-long trade ves­sel built dur­ing the Song Dy­nasty (AD 9601279) that sank about 800 years ago. It had been car­ry­ing a cargo of porce­lain, gold, jewels and other ar­ti­facts.

One of the old­est sunken wrecks found in­tact in the world, the ves­sel is now pre­served in a sealed pool at a mu­seum in Yangjiang, Guang­dong prov­ince.

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