Ancient shipwreck with beautiful cargo salvaged in China

The 160-year-old merchant ship, Yangtze No. 2 Ancient Shipwreck, was salvaged from a riverbed, and cargo items were found onboard, photos show.

The 160-year-old merchant ship, Yangtze No. 2 Ancient Shipwreck, was salvaged from a riverbed, and cargo items were found onboard, photos show.

Screengrab from Xi’s Moments Facebook

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

Researchers first detected 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 news release.

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

The sunken merchant ship rested about 18 feet underwater on the riverbed near Hengsha Island, where the Yangtze River meets the East China Sea, officials said in a news release when salvage operations began in March.

To bring the ship to the surface, researchers built a watertight chamber designed to enclose this particular shipwreck, the Global Times reported. After the wreck was inside, the chamber was slowly lifted to the surface—a process that took almost three hours.

The mast of the shipwreck broke the surface just after midnight on Monday, Nov. 21, according to an earlier news release.

Before bringing the shipwreck to the surface, salvage operations explored four cabins, discovering over 600 cargo items, Global Times reported.

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

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

Cups, bowls and plates—decorated with intricate blue designs—were recovered from the wreck, photos show. One set of plates had a light teal color. Larger pottery pieces were dark brown, showing tan-colored wear from their eventful journey.

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

Some 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 ship building. Soon, the shipwreck will be transferred to a dock on the Huangpu River, the largest river flowing through Shanghai, for further research and preservation, the release said.

Google Translate was used to translate a news 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. Previously, she reported for Deseret News.

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