Over 30 ancient shipwrecks found near China coast

The shipwrecks were found during a research project called 908, the China News Service reported quoting an official with the State Oceanic Administration (SOA).

The findings were released Sunday during a seminar in Xiamen in Fujian province.  The research, conducted by the SOA between 2004 and 2009, covered 676,000 square km of inland water and territorial sea.

Sun Jian, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage, said merchants in ancient times shipped enormous quantity of goods, including ceramics and bronze wares, along the Maritime Silk Road.

"So there are plenty of underwater archaeological sites near southeast China's coast and around neighbouring countries, such as Vietnam," he said. The Maritime Silk Road is a sea route dating back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (A.D. 25-220), linking Quanzhou in modern day Fujian province to India and the Mediterranean.

Chai Xiaoming, an official with the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, said looting had affected the preservation of the cultural relics. Sun said nearly all of the country's underwater archaeological sites have been looted before excavation.

Fujian police launched a massive crackdown in recent years and seized 7,144 artefacts stolen from shipwrecks.

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