February 19 – Shipwreck + Excavated Treasure = Exhibition

Posted on February 19, 2017

An Arabian ship...an African port...a Chinese treasure...a resting place near Indonesia!

Way back around the year 830, a dhow (which is an Arabian ship) called the Belitung sailed from Africa to China, but on the return trip -- Well! Something happened! Maybe a storm? Maybe an attack?

At any rate, the Belitung was lost at sea.

In 1998, the ruins of the shipwrecked dhow were found just a mile away from Indonesia, far from the expected route from China back to Africa. 

The discovery was made by fishermen, and Seabed Explorations excavated the shipwreck at the request of the Indonesian government. It took several years to fully excavate the wreck, partly because some time had to be spent to safeguard the site during monsoon season.

The treasures for archeologists include the dhow itself, since was the first Arabian ship to be found and excavated. Arabian ships are generally held together with pegs or nails, but this dhow was constructed out of wooden planks that were sewn together with thin coconut-fiber rope!

This modern ship is a reconstruction of the Belitung dhow.

And then there were the treasures inside the shipwreck: about 60,000 items, including jars, bowls, dishes, inkwells, funeral urns and boxes. It was the largest collection of Tang Dynasty artifacts found in any one location!

(Above) some of the dishes awaiting excavation...
(Below) ancient dishes on display, all cleaned up!

On this date in 2011, the dhow and its Tang treasures went on exhibit for the first time ever. The exhibition was held in Singapore.

Also on this date:

International Tug-of-War Day

No comments:

Post a Comment