The Bakau Wreck

The Bakau wreck is one of the oldest ships of Chinese production found in the Southeast Asian sea. It dates back to the 15th century. The wreck is located close to the coast of Bakau, a small island west of Indonesia. At the time of scientific examinations, most of the smaller cargo had already been looted. However, several huge storage jars and parts of the hull still remained. The remaining hull is 22.7 meters long and 6.5 meters wide. All together, the wrecks provide evidence of typical Chinese constructions, containing flat bottoms and bulkheads. Additionally, the use of iron nails, special chunam chaulking, and hard pine for the hull strakes are typical of the South China Sea tradition between the 14th and 16th century.

The only cargo left was a concentration of large storage jars, which appear to be too heavy to loot. The 90 cm high jars are decorated with encircling bands of Sayma or Bhodhi leaf motifs, typical of Thailand’s ceramic productions. Although full of sediment when salvaged, they contained the remnants of pepper-like seeds or grain. Other products, including ceramics from China, Thailand, and Vietnam which had been looted, were examined by scientists and determined to have originated from diverse Asian regions. In addition to ceramics, other objects and artefacts have been found, including Chinese coins, mostly from the Young-Lo period of the Ming dynasty, and bronze guns. The finding of ancient coins shows that Chinese coins were used over several centuries. It can be assumed that the ship from the Bakau wreck started its voyage at a South China port, such as Guangzhou, and went to Thailand, where it reloaded and continued toward Indonesia.

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flag Indonesia
Capital: Jakarta
Region: Asia and the Pacific

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