12th-Century Shipwreck Came with Handy 'Made in China' Tag

Live Science | 5/16/2018 | Staff
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A "Made in China" label stamped onto two ceramic boxes hauled from a shipwreck on the bottom of the Java Sea reveals that the ship went down a century earlier than previously believed.

The Java Sea wreck was once thought to date to the mid- to late 1200s. Now, new radiocarbon dating combined with the bureaucratic jargon on the label puts the real timing of the wreck during the second half of the 1100s, according to new research published today (May 16) in The Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

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Javan - Wreck - Researchers - Access - Artifacts

The Javan wreck is special because researchers have access to most of its onboard artifacts. In the past, Niziolek told Live Science, salvage operations have often plucked the most desirable items from shipwrecks and left the rest, or sold off collections from wrecks piecemeal.

Pacific Sea Resources, the private company that salvaged the Java wreck in 1996, did something different, however. The organization conducted an archaeologically focused recovery of artifacts, mapping their locations around the wreck and even conducting some radiocarbon dating. The company then donated half the haul to the Indonesian government, as contractually required under typical salvage agreements in the region, and the other half to The Field Museum.

Fact - Pacific - Sea - Resources - Half

"The fact that Pacific Sea Resources kept their half together is pretty significant," Niziolek said.

Radiocarbon dating tests for levels of the radioactive carbon isotope carbon-14. This variation of carbon, which has eight neutrons in its nucleus instead of the more typical six, decays at a known rate, so it acts like an atomic clock inside organic materials.

Dates - Tusk - Resins - AD - Centuries

The dates for the tusk and resins ranged from as early as A.D. 889 to 1261, though most fell into the 11th and 12th centuries — notably earlier...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Live Science
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