Ancient vessel subject of exhibition at Shanghai History Museum
An exhibition on the Yangtze River Estuary No. 2 Ancient Vessel opened at the Shanghai History Museum in Huangpu District on Thursday, taking visitors on a journey to unveil the mysteries of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) sand-trading boat that was buried underwater for more than 150 years.
The vessel, a wooden sailing boat built around 1862-1875 during the reign of Emperor Tongzhi, was raised in November by a salvage ship and then arrived at the No.1 dock of the former site of the Shanghai Shipyard in Yangpu District.
The exhibition comprises of three sections and follows the timeline of the vessel and narrates the stories of its discovery, Shanghai's underwater archeology, its salvage process, and the science and technology innovations applied in its salvage.
It displays 137 exhibits, including components of the boat, porcelain works found on it, and models. Some are making their public debut.
Like jigsaw puzzle pieces, they form a picture of social life during the opening of the Shanghai port and offer a glimpse into the city's history.
Multimedia technologies are applied to enrich visitors' experience with naked eye 3D exhibits, fog curtain projection, and a multimedia show and interaction, creating an vivid immersive insight into the archeological process.
"Shanghai is a city that developed along the coast, but in its development, physical materials that have witnessed its changes are relatively scarce," said Chen Hanhong from the Urban History Research Department of Shanghai History Museum.
"The exhibition uses precious physical evidence to visualize Shanghai's development, and it applies innovative technologies to demonstrate the development of Shanghai as a center of science and technology innovation."
Liu Jingyi, a young visitor, found it very interesting.
"There are many videos and games in the exhibition, which makes it more entertaining than the usual ones," she said.
As part of the display, guided night tours with drama performances, longtang (alleyway) games, and do-it-yourself activities are held.
The Yangtze River Estuary No. 2 Ancient Vessel was detected during an underwater archeological investigation near Hengsha Island in Chongming District in 2015.
Priceless archeological treasures have been found in its cabins.
A large number of cultural relics such as Yixing zisha (purple clay) wares, hookah cans made in Vietnam, wooden buckets, ship masts, shipping construction materials, and iron anchors have been found on the ship.
Underwater currents gradually exposed the ship from the sludge, making it impossible to carry out on-site preservation. The turbid waters around the Yangtze River Estuary also prevented a comprehensive underwater archeological investigation from being carried out.
In 2021, a plan for salvaging the ship was worked out, making it a national-level cultural relics protection and scientific innovation endeavor.
The Yangtze River Estuary No. 2 Ancient Vessel is another milestone in China's underwater archaeological history, joining the Nanhai No. 1 cargo ship from the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).
If you go:
Date: Through October 6 (closed on Monday), 9am-5pm
Venue: Shanghai History Museum
Address: 325 Nanjing Rd W.