In 1973, under the sands of a beach in the city of Quanzhou City in Fujian Province, a well-preserved boat built during the Song Dynasty was discovered.
It was the oldest, fully intact wooden boat unearthed in the world with a load capacity of 200 tons. It was not the largest boat constructed during that time. The largest had a load capacity of more than 1,000 tons.
Experts say the construction of these ships with hermetic compartments made safe navigation possible and these methods that were developed a millennia ago in China are still used today in modern ship construction.
During the Song Dynasty, the trading port of Quanzhou was considered one of the two largest in the world. Egypt’s Alexandria was the second one. As an important seaport for trade at one end of the Maritime Silk Road, Quanzhou had close ties with Korea and Japan in the east and as far as northeast Africa in the west.
There were two major kinds of trade goods, silk, and porcelain. Some scholars say porcelain should be considered the fifth great Chinese invention.
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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.
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