Ancient shipyard used by Zheng He may lie beneath construction site
From：ChinaDaily Writer： Date：2015-05-19
Experts estimate that a construction site in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, where hundreds of shipbuilding tools have been unearthed, contains the remains of a shipyard that built vessels for one of China's greatest navigators, Zheng He.
The admiral lived from 1371 to 1433.
Last year, many iron anchors, rudders and shoes made from palm fibers were dug up at Yongning Street in the city's Gulou district.
Other items found at the site include porcelain pieces, weapons and Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) coins.
Zhao Zhigang, an expert on ancient ships and deputy secretary-general of the Jiangsu Zheng He Research Institute, said the construction site's location matches a description in The History of LongJiang Shipyard, a book written during the Ming Dynasty.
"The hundreds of palm-fibered shoes found at the site also prove that it was a shipyard," Zhao said.
"The shoes looked and functioned like today's Crocs. Sailors and shipyard workers at the time all wore these palm-fibered shoes."
Wang Shiqing, a relics collector in Nanjing, said on Wednesday that a ship's rudder plate had been found at the site.
"It was made from mahogany imported from Southeast Asia," Wang said. "Judging from its weight and height - more than 500 kg and 10 meters - it belonged to a ship weighing at least 1,000 tons."
The Longjiang Shipyard was built before the widely known Baochuan Shipyard, or Treasure Shipyard, Zhao said.
"The Longjiang Shipyard was first built during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and grew to become the national ship-building center during the Ming Dynasty.
"But the Baochuan Shipyard, built in the third year of the reign of Emperor Yongle (1360-1424) to construct ships for Zheng He to explore the Indian Ocean, gradually outshined it."
From 1405 to 1433, Zheng made seven expeditions around the Indian Ocean, with some of these reaching South Asia, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.
Zhao suggested that a Maritime Silk Road research institute be set up to protect maritime relics in the city.
The local cultural heritage department has sent experts to the construction site.