Archaeologist Uncover Shipwreck Dating Back to Genghis Khan

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Along the site of an old construction site, a group of Chinese scientists found the muddy remains of a wooden ship that dated back more than 700 years to the era of Genghis Khan.

The 70-ft long vessel housed more than 100 artifacts, according to the paper published by Chinese Cultural Relics.

According to the archaeologists, the ship dated back to the Yuan dynasty (circa 1271-1368). It housed a shrine, a captain’s cabin, crew quarters, cargo compartments and a control room that also held a kitchen. In the shrine, they found incense burner and stone-carved figurines of “arhats.” Buddhist culture regard these as enlightened individuals. They also found several motifs including a colorful jar depicting a dragon and a phoenix.

The ship also held “artifacts of porcelain, pottery, lacquer-ware, jade, stone, iron, bronze and gold,” wrote the scientists in the paper.

In the kitchen, they found an iron stove, an iron pot, an iron ladle and a wooden cutting board.

But how was this 700-year old time capsule of ancient Chinese culture preserved?

The team wrote in the paper, “During a relatively short period of time after the accident, the silt beneath the shipwreck was washed away by the current, [and] the shipwreck continued to sink to 1 m to 2 m [3.3 feet to 6.6 feet] below the original riverbed, then stabilized at its current location. Silt and mud were then deposited over it, and the shipwreck was completely buried.”

And what of the ship’s inhabitants? The archaeologists said they found no human remains inside the cabin.

About Andrew Burke 145 Articles
Editor-in-Chief Andrew Burke is a lifelong aficionado of all things Chinese. He studied Mandarin while living in Taiwan for six years and now works as a digitization specialist at the Yenching Library, which specializes in Asian books and documents, at Harvard University where he also studies topics related to China, Chinese, Asia and foreign affairs.