To promote the preservation of underwater cultural assets, the Bureau of Cultural Heritage will showcase artifacts from sunken ships discovered near Taiwan's outlying Penghu Islands at the Penghu Living Museum from July 23 to Oct. 8.
More than 40 objects - including door latches, keys, coins, bowls and plates - were excavated from a Qing Dynasty wooden boat, a 19th century British steamship, a Chinese battleship and a World War II Japanese cargo ship.
'Underwater cultural assets help to shape the maritime culture,' explained Nien Chen-yu (粘振裕), deputy director of the Ministry of Culture's Bureau of Cultural Heritage.
To better preserve these assets, the Bureau has commissioned the Academia Sinica to survey cultural heritages in Taiwanese waters since 2006. As of the end of 2012, a total of 74 undersea archaeological targets have been identified, he added.
Ten of those have been confirmed to be sunken ships, including four Qing Dynasty ships, five Japanese ships, and a British ship, while one has been verified to be an animal fossil site dating back to the Late Pleistocene Age.
Researchers believe that the Qing Dynasty wooden boat, discovered in June 2009, was a trade boat that might have sunk after striking a reef while sailing between southeastern China and Taiwan.
The SS Bokhara British steamship, meanwhile, was found in November 2009. It sank in a typhoon in October 1892 while on its way back to Hong Kong from a cricket match in Shanghai.
Found in June 2010, the Kuang Ping Chinese battleship was created during the Qing Dynasty and was incorporated into the Japanese maritime fleet after China lost to Japan in the First Sino-Japanese War from 1894 to 1895.
Japanese cargo ship Yamafuji Maru, discovered in May 2010, was sunk by torpedoes from an American submarine in 1942 during World War II.
While the ships remain on the seabed, some objects from the sunken ships have been retrieved. Documentary films showing how these objects were recovered will also be screened at the Penghu exhibition.
For more information on the exhibition, titled 'A New Vision of the Seafloor - The 2013 Underwater Archaeology Exhibition,' and the importance of underwater archaeology and its development in Taiwan, please visit the museum website athttp://www.phlm.nat.gov.tw