The wreck of the Nanhai No 1 was found in the western part of the mouth of the Pearl River (Zhu Jiang), the starting point of China’s “Marine Silk Road”. It did once connect China with the Middle East and Europe. It takes its name from 'Nanhai' - the South China Sea. The wreck is in exceptional condition. It is thought to contain 60,000 to 80,000 precious pieces of cargo, especially ceramics.
The wreck is currently still entirely covered by silt so that its location and shape had to be verified by sub-bottom profiler. It was recovered in an exceptional exploit – a bottomless steel container was placed over the wreck site. The lower part of the container was sharpened and it was driven into the seabed by placing heavy concrete weights on the container. The surrounding area was then dug out, the container closed from below with steel sheets and the whole raised.
The Guangdong Maritime Silk Road Museum (Nanhai No. 1 Museum) is at Hailing Island close to Yangjiang, a three-hour drive from Guangdong. The museum features an aquarium with the same water quality, temperature and environment as the spot in which the wreck was discovered. Archaeologists will now excavate the vessel inside the aquarium, thereby enabling visitors to observe underwater archaeological work in a museum environment.
The remains of the ancient vessel are expected to yield critical information on ancient Chinese ship building and navigation technologies. Its significance has been compared to the famous Chinese terracotta warriors discovered in Xian.
The Nanhai No 1 museum is to become certainly one of the most important museums of underwater cultural heritage worldwide.