More than 10,000 gold and silver items that sank to the bottom of a river in south-west China over 300 years ago have been recovered.
The items included a large amount of gold, silver and bronze coins and jewellery as well as iron weapons such as swords, knives and spears, said Mr Gao Dalun, director of Sichuan Provincial Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute yesterday.
The characters carved in the gold and silver utensils are still clear and the embossed patterns on the jewellery show exquisite craftsmanship, archaeologists said.
The treasure site, located at the intersection of Minjiang River and its branch Jinjiang River, is 50km south of Chengdu.
It is said that in 1646, peasant uprising leader Zhang Xianzhong was defeated in the area by Ming Dynasty soldiers while attempting to transfer his treasure to the south. About 1,000 boats loaded with the valuables sank in the fight and were buried in the river bed.
"The items are extremely valuable to science, history and art. They are of great significance for research into the political, economic, military and social lives of the Ming Dynasty," said Mr Li Boqian, an archaeologist from Peking University. Sichuan province launched the project to unearth the relics in January when the dry season arrived and pumped away the river water. Archaeologists said the excavation will continue until next month.