Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sung Dynasty artefacts on display soon at Sabah Museum

Thousand-year-old artefacts, the oldest ever found at a shipwreck site in Malaysian waters, will soon be on display at the Sabah Museum.

More than 800 ceramic and non-ceramic items salvaged 400 metres from the Tanjung Simpang Mengayau shore at the northern tip of Borneo, close to Kudat in Sabah, are being treated and restored.

The Sung Dynasty artefacts, dating between 960 and 1127, were "officially" discovered on April 15, 2003, although local fishermen are known to have looted the site prior to that date.

Sabah Museum Department director Datuk Joseph Guntavid said once the artefacts were fully "desalinated and stabilised", the pieces would be displayed at the main exhibition gallery of the museum.

The department had given private company Nanhai Marine Archaeology Sdn Bhd a permit to excavate the site.

The company had excavated seven other wrecks off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia prior to the project at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau.

Elaborating on the discovery of the wreck and its cargo, Sabah Museum curator Stella Moo said it indicated that there was a trading route to and from Borneo a thousand years ago.

"Wrecks like this one tell us what went on in the past. Probably the items were on their way from China to Brunei. Most of the other known wrecks are close to Peninsular Malaysia so this wreck can provide us with valuable information.

"Among items discovered in this wreck are non-ceramic pieces such as bronze gongs, copper discs and steel pots, and ceramic pieces comprising plates, bowls and storage jars.

"Some of the items are intact, others are in pieces. They were probably damaged by looters or by climatic conditions such as strong currents," she said, adding that the wreck was 12 metres under the surface of the water

Courtesy of New Straits Times

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