Authorities of the central province of Quang Ngai have handed over to the provincial museum and a salvage company nearly 5,000 antiquities retrieved from a 600-year-old sunken ship last year.

The antique items in the shipwreck were discovered in the coastal area of Binh Son district's Chau Thuan Bien commune, Quang Ngai province.

Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism Nguyen Dang Vu confirmed to Viet Nam News on January 22 that the provincial museum took 33 percent of the items.

He said the antiquities were priceless treasures such as terracotta and porcelain jars, bowls and plates from the Tran dynasty, making it one of the oldest discoveries in recent years.

"The provincial museum took 1,600 antiquities, of which 35 were unique and precious objects including stone, weights and a copper mirror," said Vu.

"We will classify and file all antiquities in order before displaying them to the public soon."

Vu added that a seminar will be held this June on whether the shipwreck should be salvaged or not.

The 24-metre-long and five-metre-wide vessel, which may date back to the 14th century, is the second ancient ship that has been discovered in the province.

According to Doan Sung and his company Doan Anh Duong which won the bidding rights to raise the wreck, the antiquities are the most ancient objects retrieved from shipwrecks in Vietnam to date.

"We have searched 11 ancient sunken ships in Vietnam, but the 600-year-old ship is the oldest one. It means that all the antiquities are precious objects," Sung said.

"We will preserve the antiquities at our own museum on Phu Quoc Island to serve tourists," he said.
Sung said his company had invested 50 billion VND (2.4 million USD) in excavating two shipwrecks in the province and on preserving antiquities.

He said a 49.7-hectare Silk Road Museum, which will be built in Phu Quoc Island in 2015, will display antiquities retrieved from ancient ships in Vietnam.

"All antiquities retrieved from cargo ships that sank in Vietnam's sea waters over the centuries are related to the ancient trading route, the Silk Road," he said.

He added that the antiquities will provide clues to historic trade routes. In 1999, more than 240,000 artefacts were recovered from a sunken Thai ship near Cham Island, off the coast of Hoi An.-VNA