Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shipwreck exhibit stirs up storm at Smithsonian

Check out this item from a shipwreck, which brought a storm to the exhibit! CNN

London, England (CNN) -- Though they sit quietly beneath the waves, shipwrecks are a cause of much wrangling above the surface. The issue of underwater archaeology is clouded by concerns about treasure hunting, the safety of wrecks, and the sale of finds.

A planned 2012 exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, featuring 9th century Chinese artifacts salvaged from a wreck in Indonesian waters in 1998 is at the center of the latest row.

Archaeologists within the institution -- and further afield -- are criticizing the curator's decision to mount the show and, in particular, questioning the nature of the original salvage.

Discovered off the coast of the island Belitung in the Java Sea by fishermen diving for sea cucumbers in 1998, the 9th century Arab dhow was a treasure trove of objects including glazed ceramics, and silver and gold wares.

The Indonesian government granted permission to a private German salvage company, Seabed Explorations GbR, to excavate the wreck using divers.

The collection of finds, which included 60,000 objects, was sold largely intact to Sentosa Leisure Group, a statutory board under the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry, for $32 million, according to the Smithsonian.


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