Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Maritime Asia

Chinese ship

Maritime Asia

Seven shipwrecks

Specific ships:
Tg.Simpang (C10-12)
Turiang (c.1370)
Desaru (c.1845)

Topic pages:
Ship types
1421 bunkum

What's new

Maritime Archaeology Malaysia, an exhibition of the historic shipwrecks discovered around Malaysia, opened at Muzium Negara in Kuala Lumpur in 2001, ran for several years, and was discussed as the nucleus of a new national maritime museum. A major section, Discovering Asia's ceramic development, drew on seven shipwrecks, spanning half a millennium, which were investigated by Sten Sjostrand. Here is the internet version of that exhibition.

The Turiang(1), a Chinese ship, was sailing to Borneo and/or Sulawesi when she sank in the 14th century. Her commercial cargo included ceramics from China, Vietnam and Thailand, plus iron ore and fish... and the discovery provoked a reassessment of Thai ceramic history. This was influenced by the crackdowns of successive Chinese emperors, and casts interesting light on the political as well as the economic and trade history of Asia. A detailed report on the Turiang is available from the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society and online.

The Desaru ship, from China, sank off the southeast coast of Peninsular Malaysia in the 1840s, with a cargo of Chinese ceramics stored in built-in compartments which were well preserved. A written report was submitted to the Malaysian Department of Museums and Antiquities in early 2003, and all essentials are online.

The Tanjung Simpang ship dates from the Northern Song dynasty (960-1126 AD), and could have greatly extended our knowledge of early Southeast Asian trade, but was heavily looted. All information we have is online.

Topic pages are supplementary to these principal sections of the site. 'Malaysia at the crossroads' explains the wealth of historic shipwrecks around the country. Some material on other shipwrecks, the Nanyang, Longquan, Royal Nanhai, Xuande, Singtai and Desaru, will be found in both the exhibition (which is indexed) and the 'other wrecks' section of the Turiang report.

The chronology provides an overview of Asian maritime trade up to 1700, drawing on historical sources from many countries and new archaeological evidence; at the foot of this page is the growing bibliography. This is the page most frequently updated.

  1. Working names were assigned to ships of which the original names are unknown.
Tanjung Simpang ship Desaru ship Turiang ship
Finds from the 'Desaru' shipwreck, c.1830, on display at Muzium Negara.
Finds from the 'Xuande' site, c.1540, at Muzium Negara.
Finds from the 'Royal Nanhai' ship, c.1460, on display at Muzium Negara.

Plates from the 'Royal Nanhai', c.1460, stacked between replica bulkheads at Muzium Negara.

Last modified:
1 June 2010

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