r/history Nov 21 '22 Silver 1

Ancient shipwreck sees light of day again, a major milestone for Chinese underwater archaeology Article



u/Creoda Nov 22 '22

What annoys me is the heading "shipwreck sees the light of day" yet there's no photo of it.


u/GandalfTheWhey Nov 22 '22

Exactly.. where are the photos of the ship?


u/LeoSolaris Nov 21 '22 edited Nov 22 '22

250 years old is not really that ancient. Especially for a culture that is several thousand years old.

Edit: 150 because I can't both math and type at the same time.


u/kruzer912 Nov 21 '22

Actually if I’m reading it right they wrote it’s about 150 years old, so more in the timeframe of Ancient US President Abraham Lincoln


u/Calcaneum Nov 21 '22

Experts said that the merchant ship dates back to the reign of the Qing Dynasty Tongzhi Emperor (1862-1875).

147-160yrs, for anybody reading your comment and wondering!


u/Terrh Nov 22 '22

But that's when it was built, not when it sunk.

They aren't sure when it sunk and it might have been less than 100 years ago based upon some of what has been found on board.

So not really all that ancient, but still really really interesting!


u/Jak_n_Dax Nov 21 '22

You mean ancient Egyptian Pharoh Abraham Lincoln?


u/GrantMK2 Nov 21 '22

That's a really under-appreciated part of the Book of Exodus.


u/Jellicle_Tyger Nov 22 '22

It really sets up the ironic reversal when he signs the emancipation proclamation millenia later.


u/mekatzer Nov 22 '22

You mean like in the Ken Burns cave paintings?


u/Eurymedion Nov 21 '22

Early Late-modern period shipwreck is more appropriate.

Probably a translation error.


u/LeoSolaris Nov 21 '22

Highly likely a translation error. I'd be curious to know what the original phrase was and what shades of meaning it had originally


u/phenyle Nov 22 '22

It might be the character 古, which can mean either simply "old" or "ancient", depending on the context


u/CloudiusWhite Nov 22 '22

Its still really really cool though.


u/mauganra_it Nov 21 '22

It can be argued to be a translation error, but Chinese history does not share the sharp divide in Western history around the 5th century when the Western Roman Empire collapsed. For the Chinese, modern Chinese history starts with the Opium Wars. Everything before that is considered ancient Chinese history, as the Opium Wars are the harbinger of the eventual demise of Imperial China.


u/Roastbeef3 Nov 22 '22

But this ship post dates even the opium wars. Not by a lot, but it does


u/jonnycash11 Nov 22 '22 edited Nov 22 '22

I think you mean “Feudal China” not ancient.

Ancient China would be the Zhou or Shang dynasties, maybe even the legendary Xia dynasty.

The Chinese 古代 period ends about 2000BC, based on this baidubaike (Chinese Wikipedia) article.


u/Maleficent_Moose_802 Nov 22 '22

Indeed, to the Chinese, if a historical period still have detailed and believable records, it is not ancient enough.


u/RollinThundaga Nov 21 '22

Then an interpretation error on part of the translator; if it's being translated for an English-speaking audience, then they won't pick up on that cultural difference.


u/Naritai Nov 22 '22

The word 'ancient' has certain meanings in the English language, and 150 years old isn't ancient.


u/[deleted] Nov 22 '22



u/mauganra_it Nov 22 '22

The decline of Chinese civilization during the 19th century is a major departure from the flow of Chinese history until then. China has been conquered many times, but so far the conquerors always assimilated to Chinese civilization. Colonization by foreign powers and the Unequal Treaties were a new pattern, and these events still loom large in the collective psyche of the Chinese people.


u/[deleted] Nov 22 '22 edited Dec 12 '22

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u/mauganra_it Nov 22 '22

Rather the exception than the norm then.


u/dusmeyedin Nov 22 '22

I'd agree, China has plenty of artifacts from the times of the "ancients" (e.g. Shang Dynasty bronzeware, from 1600 BCE to 1000 BCE) that are far older than this.

If we're talking archeological eras, then this might be best termed "pre-Industrial", since the Qing Dynasty resolutely resisted industrialization.

However, from the viewpoint of a modern Chinese person, it's also worth noting that in the space of 150 years they had a collapse of a dynasty, the rise and collapse of numerous warlord states, the failure of a new Republic (complete with an abortive attempt by the president to name himself new Emperor), and finally the establishment of a Communist state.

The fact that the Communist government has held power for a (comparatively brief) 70+ years still puts it at one of the more stable forms of government in the past generation or two.


u/toyyya Nov 22 '22

Even we here in Sweden have raised a pretty darn big ship) from the 1600s and have since put it on display in a museum.

We did that in the 60s, it ain't exactly a huge innovation to be able to do so


u/[deleted] Nov 22 '22



u/toyyya Nov 22 '22

Pretty darn cool, you can definitely tell the difference in the seas of how well it survived in the waters.

We raised the Vasa out of the Baltic Sea which isn't quite salty or quite fresh water (aka brackish water). Meaning that there are less creatures able to break it down living in the waters which is why it survived relatively intact.


u/LiTMac Nov 22 '22

When I went to the museum about 4 or 5 years ago, I remember someone telling me that part of what helped was also the amount of trash that had been thrown into the fjord over the centuries, which created an anoxic environment down the bottom of the water.


u/imafraidofmuricans Nov 22 '22

It does depend on where the boat is. Like, the Baltic has perfect conditions for preserving the wood and is quite shallow.

Had Vasa sunk over the Marian trench we wouldn't be picking it, is my point.


u/bobrobor Nov 22 '22

The US raised a submarine from that time, so yeah it is not ancient by any stretch of imagination.


u/LadyK1104 Nov 22 '22

Agreed - still cool though


u/pineapplejuniors Nov 21 '22

Tbh I was expecting at least 1000-2000 years old and I was surprised something in the Yangtze could last that long.


u/EndofGods Nov 21 '22

Some factors are oxygen, depth for example. Low oxygen means more preservation. Sometimes shipwrecks may look pristine and I find it fascinating.


u/pineapplejuniors Nov 22 '22

Still not in the "ancient" category, but older than the ship from this post and I've yet to find one more impressive!


Would be amazing to unearth a greek/roman/phoenician trireme, might need to have sunk in amber to preserve that long though lol.


u/GandalfTheWhey Nov 22 '22

This article has an actual picture of the wreck for those who are interested: http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202211/22/WS637c04d0a31049175432b0dd.html


u/tafinucane Nov 21 '22

Is Chinese underwater archaeology different?


u/mrgonzalez Nov 22 '22

To Chinese land archaeology? Massively


u/ACOdysseybeatsRDR2 Nov 22 '22

Its basically saying "Chinese Archaeology Makes a new majore accompishment"


u/[deleted] Nov 22 '22

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u/The9isback Nov 22 '22

Or it's just a breakthrough for them? Just because other parts of the world is better doesn't mean they can't have a breakthrough?


u/IslandChillin Nov 21 '22

"On Monday, as a shipwreck was slowly pulled out of the water from the bottom of a riverbed where it had been laying for more than a century and a half, Chinese archaeology witnessed a new breakthrough in the field of underwater archaeology. The salvage operation took nearly three hours to remove the shipwreck along with a large caisson, a watertight chamber that had been built specially for the wreck's removal. 

In a few days, the ancient shipwreck is expected to be shipped to the former site of the Shanghai Shipyard, where further research and preservation efforts will be carried out. 

The shipwreck, dubbed the Yangtze River Estuary No.2, is one of the largest and best-preserved ancient wooden shipwrecks ever discovered in China and even the world. The ship was filled with a diverse array of cultural relics that are sure to prove valuable for research into the ships of the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The excellent condition of the ship and the rich cultural relics on board are of great significance for research into the history of shipbuilding, the shipping industry and ceramic production in China and the world, a spokesperson from the China National Cultural Heritage Administration told the Global Times on Monday.

The technology used to salvage the ancient shipwreck is also significant, as it marks the first use of a creative technical solution specifically designed to transfer the ship in its entirety."


u/r-reading-my-comment Nov 21 '22

How is this ancient, innovative or a big ship?

They found a moderately sized, somewhat old boat, and raised it.


u/worotan Nov 21 '22

Since they say the tech is innovative, I guess they used a modern boat that is old enough to be affected by sitting in water, but which any mistakes in lifting it wouldn’t matter.

Better to start unproven methods with something relatively inconsequential than a real ancient wreck.


u/tomsan2010 Nov 22 '22

This! In the caspian sea, there are tonnes of ancient boats from many different cultures and times. If we can study them without breaking it, and preserve it at the same time, we could get amazing insight


u/Environmental-Art792 Nov 21 '22

No pictures or videos of this thing?


u/jbeech- Nov 22 '22

Using a giant caisson is brilliant! Well done.


u/[deleted] Nov 22 '22

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u/KiwieeiwiK Nov 22 '22

True, we should go to one of the western media organisations that cover Chinese scientific and technological advances such as.... Uhhhhh.......


u/[deleted] Nov 22 '22 edited Nov 22 '22

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