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Our Shores: The Story of an Amazing Shipwreck

People have been trading goods along our island shores for over thousands of years, way before the Europeans ever got here.  The technologically advanced and sea worthy vessels of the Arabs carried goods that were manufactured and specified to order in China as early as the Tang dynasty (618 - 907) when there was an explosion of "globalisation"due to robust trade. We have always known about the overland trade along the Silk Road into Inner Asia, but never have we had the definitive proof that the maritime trade was as lively as the land trade during that period until the discovery of the Belitung Shipwreck in the Sumatran islands of Indonesia in 1998.

Goods from over 1,100 years ago were amazingly well preserved by the sands of the sea and found by fishermen who were diving for sea cucumbers.  Singapore's very own Asian Civilisations Museum purchased almost all of the wreck's goods which contained more than 60,000 ceramics and objects of gold and silver that had been bound for Iran and Iraq.  

What happened to the rest?  Shipwrecks are like found hidden treasure, no one really has rights over them.  So before the area was officially designated by the government and a private contractor hired to recover the goods, several hundred objects had possibly already been sold off piecemeal.