The Tang Shipwreck: Art and Exchange in the 9th Century
Edited by Alan Chong and Stephen A. Murphy
Authors: Stephen A. Murphy, Michael Flecker, Regina Krahl, John Guy, John Miksic, Derek Heng, Kan Shuyi, François Louis, Qi Dongfang
Format: Hardcover, with 351 illustrations; 339 coloured, 13 black & white
Price: SGD 50
This book tells the story of the Tang Shipwreck, discovered off Belitung Island in Indonesia in 1998, and now housed at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore. It is one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of recent times. Found at the site was a remarkable cargo of some 60,000 Chinese ceramics dating from the Tang dynasty (618-907), along with finely wrought gold and silver objects, bronze mirrors, and more ordinary objects belonging to the crew. Just as remarkable were the remnants of the ship itself, which consisted of wooden planks sewn together with rope. This construction technique clearly indicated that the vessel had been built in the Persian Gulf or western reaches of the Indian Ocean, and had sailed all the way from the Middle East to China, and was on its way home when it ran aground in the Java Sea. The ten essays in this profusely illustrated volume discuss the ceramics and other commodities on board, the ship's construction and possible origin, China's maritime trade in the Tang period, Chinese ceramic production, ports of call in Asia and Southeast Asia, and life on board the ship.