The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Singapore Tourism Board and the National Heritage Board of Singapore today announced a partnership to organize the first exhibition and international tour of one of the oldest and most important marine archaeological finds of the late 20th century. The exhibition will focus on the 1998 discovery of a ninth-century shipwreck and its astonishing cargo of about 60,000 objects from Tang dynasty China, ranging from mass-produced ceramics to rare and extraordinary items of finely worked gold. The cargo had laid undisturbed on the ocean floor for more than 1,100 years until sea-cucumber divers discovered it off the coast of Indonesia's Belitung Island. The ship, an Arab dhow, and its contents confirm the existence of a direct maritime trade route (alluded to in ancient Chinese and Arabic texts) from China to the Persian Gulf and beyond-well before the Portuguese set sail in the 15th century.
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