The methods of experimental archaeology apply in the reconstuctions of ship remains, the Ganzeng Warship Case

Dublin Core


The methods of experimental archaeology apply in the reconstuctions of ship remains, the Ganzeng Warship Case


Session 3
History and Current Trends of Underwater Archaeology around East Asia


As one of the most important instruments of production in ancient time, ships are a complicated and systematic carrier. To study their uses one could broach the subjects of naval architecture, art of seamanship, fishing production, social function of trade and navy, and its anthropological meaning as a special settlement . With respect to naval architecture our study divided it into the following: shipform, structure and principle of design.

The method of experimental archaeology ship-reconstructions first in the late half of the last century in Europe. Initial endowment by the Danish National Research Foundation reconstructed a Viking ship. This methodology involves archeology, ancient documentation, and ethno-archaeological investigation of the same culture-tradition of shipbuilding. In this way, ancient ships can be restituted, rebuilt, and understood.

Chinese junks had adopted the bamboo strip sail in the Western Han dynasty (B.C.206—A.D.220). This tool was still in use in the Early Qing Dynasty (1644-1799) as evidenced by the Ganzeng warship. However, archaeologists have not found tangible evidence and are unclear on its structure and manufacturing methods.

Nautical archaeology had never carried out an experiment on replica and reconstruction according to ancient navigation environment perspectives. The reconstruction of Ganzeng warship from the Early Qing Dynasty was based on the study of historic documents, integrated with methods of ship design and building traditions acquired from the ethnographical field work in Fujian province. This was the first full scale experimental anthropology reconstruction project in China. the design principle and method began with the preliminary sorting of the modular system of construction that was largely based on the study of the transverse watertight bulkhead, mast base structure, and the axis helm that can lift and swing bamboo strip sail.

From this project we concluded that experimental reconstruction of ship remains is the only effective means to preserve the Chinese junk heritage. Furthermore, in this paper we introduce the use of modern technology and research tools used in experimental archaeology of ship remains.

Key words: experimental archaeology, reconstruction sailing ship, ship remain, Ganzeng, naval architecture. Xu Lu


Xu Lu
Jia Hao



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