Artifacts unearthed from a shipwreck have revealed the country's heritage of trade in coastal regions during its long-standing history.

An exhibition at the National Museum of History featuring the relics, entitled Vietnam 's Maritime Cultural Heritage, aims at introducing facets of the country's seas and islands as well as aspects of trade between East and West.

Documents, photographs and artifacts displayed in the exhibit support and reaffirm Vietnam 's sovereignty in the East Sea .

The display is arranged into categories ranging from prehistoric times to the 10th century, from the 11th century BC to the 18th century and from the 19th century to the modern age.

"The documents, photographs, and typical artifacts used in the exhibition are vivid evidence of Vietnam 's strong integration and important contribution in the history of the formation and operation of the system of international maritime trading," said Nguyen Van Cuong, director of the museum.

"At the same time, there is also the historical message of Vietnam 's long-standing and continuous sovereignty in the East Sea ."

Archaeological discoveries in Vietnam's coastal region's of the prehistoric period show that inhabitants of these areas not only had close and enduring ties with one another, but also traded and interacted with regions further afield, including peoples and populations of southern mainland China, modern-day Taiwan, and various other regions of Southeast Asia.

To illustrate the period, pottery tools used in productive labour and shells serving as the food of ancient people are on display.

After regaining independence, the Dinh, Le, Ly, Tran and later-Le dynasties sought to consolidate and develop Dai Viet (the then name of Vietnam ) into a powerful and important Southeast Asian realm.

Thanks to the well-crafted foreign trade policies of this great pre-modern dynasty, Vietnam continued to be attractive to foreign merchant ships through the two important gateways of Van Don (in the northern province of Quang Ninh) and Thi Nai (in the central coastal province of Binh Dinh ).

In particular, the production and export of ceramics fed the powerful demands of Japanese, Southeast and West Asian markets. These were all trends attesting to the strong integration of Vietnam into the great pre-modern system of international maritime trade.

The worldwide voyages of European overseas exploration and discovery vessels gave rise to a great "commercial revolution" in Western Europe . This led to the creation of new maritime trading networks linking the regions of the East Sea to other lands and continents. In this period, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, English, French and other traders became directly involved in trade with Dai Viet. In response, the domains of the Trinh Lords (in the north of Vietnam ) and the Nguyen Lords (in the south of Vietnam ) were opened and integrated strongly into this system.

In this category, the exhibition showcases objects relating to the different cultures of Thailand , Japan , China and Europe .

Visitors can also reach a better understanding of Vietnam 's sovereignty over the territorial waters marked and identified through maps and documents under the Nguyen Dynasty.

The exposition is organised by the Vietnam National Museum of History, in collaboration with the museums of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Hung Yen, Quang Ninh, Quang Ngai and Quang Nam provinces and Da Nang and Hai Phong cities.

The exhibition will run until November at the Vietnam National Museum of History, 25 Tong Dan Street , Hanoi .