News & Events

22 Nov 2022


Fudan bioarchaeological tech helps salvage of ancient shipwreck

By Zhang Yang

The Yangtze No.2 Ancient Shipwreck, one of the largest and best preserved wooden shipwrecks in China to date, was lifted out of Heng Sha waters of the Yangtze River Estuary early Monday. Dating back to the Qing Dynasty, the merchant vessel carries a large number of cultural relics on board, and is rich in archeological value.

sediment sampling sites (red dots)

The bioarcheology team led by Wen Shaoqing, an associate professor at Fudan's Department of Cultural Heritage and Museology and Institute for Archaeological Science, has been working on the project for months. So far, more than 600 ceramics have been cleared from the shipwreck.

mud sampled from inside the ceramic bottles

Wen said, by analyzing the environmental DNA of sediments in different depths of a ceramic bottle, his team can speculate the sinking process of the ship. He also mentioned the ancient Chinese wisdom on the preservation of fragile objects by discovering the presence of rice shell around the ceramic cups as a buffering material. “A small boat can bring a whole world to us,” he said.

Prof. Wen Shaoqing

The bioarcheology team featuring interdisciplinary researches applied the cutting-edge technology of molecular archaeology and palaeogenomics in the shipwreck archaeology for the first time. By testing the visible and invisible biological materials  of the ship, the team aims at reconstructing its whole history.

“Starting from this project, we’ll continue being devoted to underwater archaeology. In the future, we hope to play a bigger role in archaeological sciences and interdisciplinary research,” said Wen.

About the Department of Cultural Heritage and Museology and Institute for Archaeological Science of Fudan University

In 1984, Fudan University was entrusted by the National Cultural Heritage Administration to formally initiate studies and education of cultural heritage and museology. The College of Cultural Heritage and Museology of Fudan University was established in 1989. It consisted of the Department of Cultural Heritage and Museology, the Department of History, and the Institute of Historical Geography. In 1996, the Department of Cultural Heritage and Museology was separated from the college and became an independent institution at Fudan University.

The department undertakes research projects in archaeology, museology, cultural heritage, conservation and restoration at the national, provincial, ministerial and municipal levels. Many of the projects have been entrusted by famous institutions such as UNESCO and the Shanghai Museum.

The department also boasts a global collaboration network with famous universities and research institutions all over the world, including Harvard University, Boston University, the George Washington University, the University of Toronto, McGill University, Leiden University, the University of Paris, the School of Oriental and African Studies, the University of Leicester, the University of Liverpool, the University of Tokyo, the University of Kyoto, Tokyo University of the Arts, Hosei University, Ehime University, Kanazawa University, Cheng Kung University, Feng Chia University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the British Museum and the Smithsonian Institution, etc.

Presented by Fudan University Media Center

Editor:Li Yijie, Wang Mengqi