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Thursday June 14, 2007

Chinese archaeologists locate sunken ship laden with Ming Dynasty porcelain


BEIJING (AP): Chinese archaeologists have discovered a sunken ship laden with Ming Dynasty porcelain, tipped off by local police who learned that fishing boats were carrying out illegal salvage operations, state media reported. 

The ship, dubbed the South China Sea II, was probably built during the Ming Dynasty which lasted from 1368 to 1644, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday, citing the Guangdong Archaeology Institute. 

Archaeologists used GPS earlier this month to locate the approximately 18-meter (59-foot) long ship lying 20 meters (66 feet) under the surface of the South China Sea off China's southern coast. 

Police in Nanao County of Guangdong province have confiscated more than 130 pieces of the porcelain from three fishing boats, Xinhua said. One boat owner said divers he had hired for deep sea fishing discovered the pieces by accident. 

Authorities stepped up monitoring and told residents not to loot the ship. On June 1, two residents turned over 124 porcelain items to police, Xinhua said. 

A preliminary study showed the ship may have sank about 400 years ago after striking a reef, Xinhua quoted Wei Jun of the Guangdong Archaeology Institute as saying.

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