Fortune from the depths... $70m Ming dynasty artefacts saved from shipwreck
Experts from the professional shipwreck exploration company Arqueonautas Worldwide - Arqueologia Subaquática S.A. (AWW) - have confirmed the discovery of the largest cargo of Ming porcelain found to date: hundreds of thousands of artifacts.
The recovery getting underway a few weeks ago

They were the cargo of what is believed to be a doomed Chinese merchant ship that traded in Southeast Asia during the reign of the Wanli Emperor (1572-1620) - an estimated $70m find.

In cooperation with the Indonesian government and in partnership with the company RM Discovery, Inc., a team of divers led by Arqueonautas founder and CEO Count Nikolaus Sandizell and COO/marine archaeologist Alejandro Mirabal, recently completed a series of reconnaissance dives on the site, which is located about 90 miles off the coast of Indonesia in approximately 180 feet of water.

Sandizell describes descending to the site in a strong current and encountering "a silty mosaic of crushed and shattered ceramic fragments, "evidence of a violent and chaotic end," and against this background, "row upon row of delicate intact bowls, nestled together in orderly rows as they were stowed more than four centuries ago."

The wreck site, which was initially found and reported by fishermen in 2009, is estimated to contain approximately 700,000 Ming porcelain artifacts. Based on the amount of cargo and the size of the debris field - the tumulus is 150 x 70 feet and up to 25 feet high - Sandizell says the vessel appears to be "unusually large for its time."

Ming dynasty vases are of course a byword for valuable decorative art and the Chinese art and antiques markets are booming with spectacular results (though the most amazing have been Qing dynasty).

There is always a particular allure too for collectibles which have been rescued from the oceans, whether it be interrupted mail, historical gold ingots, Titanic memorabilia or long-lost Champagne.

 

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