More than 10000 gold and silver items that sank to the bottom of Minjiang River in Sichuan Province, China, around 300 years ago were uncovered by archaeologists. The artefacts date to 17th century during the period of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD).
The site is located at the intersection of the Minjiang and Jinjiang rivers, 50 kilometres south of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan. Several valuable items were found here in 2005 when construction workers discovered seven silver ingots on the river bank. After studying the items, the local government declared the area a protected site in 2010, but a comprehensive excavation was hindered as experts argued over the existence of the legendary “sunken boats”.
Legend had it that in 1646, peasant leader Zhang Xianzhong was defeated by Ming Dynasty soldiers while attempting to transfer his large haul of treasure southward. About 1000 boats loaded with money and assorted valuable were said to have sunk in the skirmish. For centuries the story remained little more than a rumour with no reliable evidence but the uncovered objects are the most direct and compelling evidence to identify the area where the battle was fought.
The items found include large amounts of gold, silver and bronze coins, jewellery, and iron weapons such as swords, knives and spears. According to archaeologists several characters carved in the gold and silver utensils were still clear, and embossed patterns on the jewellery showed exquisite craftsmanship.
Sichuan officials launched the exploration project in January when the dry season arrived. Several water pumps were used to drain water away day and night. Hundreds of meters of the river bed appeared after archaeologists dug 5 meters down, where they came upon the relics.
(after India Today, Xinhua, Shanghai Daily & The Straits Times)