Chinese warship loaded with goods under archaeological investigation

The underwater shipwreck of Zhiyuan (or “Chih Yuan”) that sunk with 245 people on board 120 years ago is under archaeological excavation. The wreck is located off Dandong in northeast China’s Liaoning province.

Pottery from the Zhiyuan shipwreck (by China Daily)

The wreck was found in 2013 by port operators 50 kilometres away from Dandong. Excavations at its resting place started in 2014.  So far more than 200 artefacts have been excavated, including articles of daily use, construction materials and weapons. Among the finds is a ceramic plate inked with “Chih Yuan” and “Imperial Chinese Navy” in English. Other finds include a Gatling gun and a compact, hand-held telescope, carved with the name “Chin Kin Kuai” (chief mate of the ship, Chen Jinkui) in Romanized letters.

Telescope found in the ship (by China Daily)

The ship was manufactured in Newcastle, England, between 1885 and 1887. It joined the Beiyang Fleet, under the rule of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). During the Battle of Yalu River on September 17th, 19884 the vessel was sunk. The battle was the largest naval engagement on the Yellow Sea during the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). The ship sunk with admiral Deng Shichang and all but seven of the 252 men on board after being hit by shells.

Chinese science vessel (by China Daily)

The research was conducted with use of China’s first scientific-research vessel, which was specifically designed for underwater archaeology. Advanced technologies like sonar and 3-D modelling were used for detection. Only 61 metres of the original 75 metres of length of the vessel are preserved. Its original roughly 8-meter height has diminished to 2.5 meters. The wreck is said to be covered in sand which needs to be slowly cleared away by excavators. The artefacts relevant to Zhiyuan were scattered in a larger area than the ship itself.

(after China Daily)

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