Ancient shipwreck with beautiful cargo salvaged in China

The 160-year-old merchant ship, Yangtze No.  2 Ancient Shipwreck, was recovered from a river bed and cargo items were found on board, photos show.

The 160-year-old merchant ship, Yangtze No. 2 Ancient Shipwreck, was recovered from a river bed and cargo items were found on board, photos show.

Screenshot of Xi’s Moments Facebook

Salvage efforts in China have freed an ancient shipwreck and its beautiful cargo after being trapped beneath the waves for more than a century, photos show.

Researchers first discovered the Yangtze No. 2 Ancient shipwreck off the coast of Shanghai in 2015, but salvage efforts have taken years of planning and preparation, the State Council of the People’s Republic of China said in a Nov. 22 Xinhua press release.

Experts say the 160-year-old shipwreck dates back to the Qing dynasty. The wreck is “one of the largest and best-preserved wooden shipwrecks discovered underwater in China,” the press release said. With 31 cabins, the ship is 125 feet long and about 32 feet wide.

The sunken merchant ship was about 5 meters underwater on the riverbed near Hengsha Island, where the Yangtze River meets the East China Sea, officials said in a press release when salvage operations began in March.

To raise the ship to the surface, researchers built a watertight chamber designed to enclose this particular shipwreck, the Global Times reported. After the wreckage was inside, the chamber was slowly lifted to the surface – a process that took nearly three hours.

The shipwreck’s mast broke just after midnight on Monday, Nov. 21, according to an earlier press release.

Before the shipwreck was brought to the surface, salvage operations explored four cabins and discovered more than 600 items of cargo, Global Times reported.

The cargo included “exquisite” blue and white porcelain, purple clay pottery and other building materials, the release said. Photos show the astonishing finds.

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One of the pottery fragments recovered from the shipwreck. Photo from Shanghai Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage/Handout via Xinhua

Cups, bowls and plates – adorned with intricate blue designs – were recovered from the wreckage, photos show. One set of plates had a light teal color. Larger pieces of pottery were dark brown and showed yellow-brown wear from their eventful journey.

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Some of the pottery recovered from the shipwreck. Photo from Shanghai Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage/Handout via Xinhua

Part of the cargo comes from a city in China’s Jiangxi province known as the “porcelain capital,” officials said. Other items come from Vietnam, Global Times reported.

The discoveries will show researchers more about ancient Chinese ceramics, economics and shipbuilding. Soon, the shipwreck will be transferred to a dock on the Huangpu River, the largest river flowing through Shanghai, for further investigation and preservation, the release said.

Google Translate was used to translate a press release from the State Council of the People’s Republic of China via Xinhua.

Aspen Pflughoeft covers real-time news for McClatchy. She is a graduate of Minerva University, where she studied communications, history and international politics. She previously reported for Deseret News.

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