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Artifacts from sunken ships on display to promote preservation

2013/07/23 19:34:48

Taipei, July 23 (CNA) Artifacts from sunken ships discovered near Taiwan's outlying Penghu Islands will be on display from Tuesday onward at an exhibition in Penghu, aimed at promoting the preservation of underwater cultural assets.

More than 40 objects--including door latches, keys, coins, bowls and plates--were restored from a Qing Dynasty wooden boat, a 19th century British steamship, a Chinese battleship, and a World War II Japanese cargo ship, according to the Ministry of Culture's Bureau of Cultural Heritage.

"Underwater cultural assets are an important part of the marine culture," said Nien Chen-yu, deputy director of the bureau, in a statement.

To better preserve these assets, he added, his bureau has commissioned the Academia Sinica since 2006 to survey cultural heritages in the waters near Taiwan.

As of the end of 2012, a total of 74 undersea archaeological targets have been identified, according to the bureau.

Ten of those have been confirmed to be sunken ships, including four Qing Dynasty ships, five Japanese ships, and a British ship, while one has been verified to be an animal fossil site dating back to the Late Pleistocene Age, the bureau said.

Researchers believe that the Qing Dynasty wooden boat, discovered in June 2009, was a trade boat that might have sunk after striking a reef while sailing between southeastern China and Taiwan.

The SS Bokhara British steamship, meanwhile, was found in November 2009. It sank in a typhoon in October 1892 while on its way back to Hong Kong from a cricket match in Shanghai.

Found in June 2010, the Kuang Ping Chinese battleship was created during the Qing Dynasty and was incorporated into the Japanese maritime fleet after China lost to Japan in the First Sino-Japanese War from 1894-1895.

Japanese cargo ship Yamafuji Maru, discovered in May 2010, was sunk by torpedoes from an American submarine in 1942 during World War II.

While some objects from the sunken ships have been retrieved, the ships remain on the seabed, according to the bureau.

Documentary films showing how these objects were recovered will be screened at the exhibition, which will run until Oct. 8 at the Penghu Living Museum.

The exhibition, titled "A New Vision from the Seafloor-Underwater Archaeology Exhibition 2013," will also highlight the importance of underwater archaeology and its development in Taiwan, bureau officials said.

(By Christie Chen)