Penghu exhibition highlights artifacts from sunken ships

CULTURAL ASSETS::More than 40 objects recovered from a Qing Dynasty boat and a 19th-century British steamship among others are on display until Oct. 8

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 - Page 3

Artifacts from sunken ships discovered near the Penghu Islands went on display on Tuesday at an exhibition in Penghu promoting the preservation of underwater artifacts.

More than 40 objects — including door latches, keys, coins, bowls and plates — were recovered from a Qing Dynasty wooden boat, a 19th-century British steamship, a Chinese battleship and a World War II Japanese cargo ship, according to the Ministry of Culture’s Bureau of Cultural Heritage.

“Underwater cultural assets are an important part of the marine culture,” bureau Deputy Director Nien Chen-yu (粘振裕) said in a statement.

The bureau commissioned Academia Sinica in 2006 to survey possible cultural heritage sites in the waters near Taiwan, he said.

A total of 74 undersea archeological targets have been identified as of the end of last year, the bureau said.

Ten of those have been confirmed to be sunken ships, including four Qing Dynasty ships, five Japanese ships and a British ship, while one has been verified to be an animal fossil site dating back to the Late Pleistocene Age, the bureau said.

Researchers believe that the Qing Dynasty wooden boat, discovered in June 2009, was a trading boat that might have sunk after hitting a reef while sailing between southeastern China and Taiwan.

The British steamship, the SS Bokhara, was found in November 2009. It sank in a typhoon in October 1892 while on its way back to Hong Kong from a cricket match in Shanghai.

The Kuang Ping, a battleship built during the Qing Dynasty that was added to Japan’s maritime fleet after China lost to Japan in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) was found in June 2010.

The Japanese cargo ship Yamafuji Maru, discovered in May 2010, was sunk by torpedoes from an US submarine in 1942 during World War II.

While some objects from the ships have been recovered, the ships themselves remain on the seabed, the bureau said.

Documentary films showing how the objects were recovered will be screened at the exhibition, which will run until Oct. 8 at the Penghu Living Museum.

The exhibition, titled “A New Vision from the Seafloor-Underwater Archaeology Exhibition 2013,” will also highlight the importance of underwater archeology and its development in Taiwan, bureau officials said.