The Java Sea Wreck was first found by fishermen and looted by local divers before being salvaged, along with its cargo. Salvage work continued in 1996, and archaeological examinations were undertaken. The ship wreck dates from the mid to late 13th century and was found in the open sea, west of the coast of Sumatra. The area is now a direct shipping lane between the Bangka Strait and Jakarta. However, the discovery of other shipwrecks in this area indicates that this shipping lane has been used since the earliest days of commercial trade in the region.
The ship is approximately 28-31 meters long and 8-9 meters wide. It seems most probable that it was overwhelmed by a storm. Unfortunately, the wreck was not covered by sediment and thus, due to biological degeneration, nothing remained of the original hull except for a few fragments of timber. Examinations of the salvaged timber show that the ship was likely built in Indonesia. The cargo contained mostly Chinese iron and ceramics, but hundreds of fine-paste-ware kendis from Thailand and products from Sumatra have also been identified. In total, the ship probably transported around 190 tons of cast iron and 100,000 ceramic objects. Additionally, it is probable that the vessel was on its way to Java from China, making intermediate stops along the route.