An exquisite treasure is resting at the bottom of the ocean off the shores of Indonesia, and one company is making plans to pull it up to the surface.
According to Bloomberg News, $43 million dollars worth of 400-year-old Chinese porcelain is sitting at the bottom of the sea, and Nikolaus Graf Sandizell, chairman and CEO of the Portugal-based marine-archaeology company Arqueonautas Worldwide SA, is hoping to fish it out.
Sandizell, 53, is currently awaiting permission from the Indonesian government to pull this treasure up, as Indonesia is the legal owner of the shipwreck. The remains of the boat's contents were discovered in 2008, and the porcelain has survived the sea waters, the Los Angeles Times reported the ocean has acted as a preservative.
Bloomberg reported there are 700,000 pieces strewn across a wide section of the ocean floor, the artifacts include dishes, cups and bowls made during the time of Ming dynasty Emperor Wanli; emperor of China from 1572 to 1620.
Sandizell is concerned about this treasure being lost, permanently. Between the threats of dragnet fishing, pipeline and cable installation, offshore oil exploration and thieves, he wants to extract these treasures before something happens to them.
“We want to draw attention to the crazy speed at which these treasures are vanishing", said Sandizell, “In 10 years it will be too late.”
To date, 38,000 pieces of porcelain have been recovered in a 2010 expedition. Sandizell fears that since the location of the wreck is now publicly known, that the risk of theft has increased.
An auction website notes Chinese porcelain from the 16th Century (with the Wanli Mark) quotes tens of thousands of U.S. dollars for some pieces.
“A shipwreck is a time capsule, a window onto history and can be a way of recovering history that has been lost,” said Sandizell, who is also involved with Leuchtenburg, a medieval castle in Germany that houses exhibits. “The history that is brought to light should be accessible to everyone.”
Currently, an exhibit highlighted on Leuchtenburg's website is, “The Wanli Expedition. White Gold From the Bottom of the Sea."
In another part of the world, a 200-year-old shipwreck uncovered bottles of 19th century alcohol still intact, researchers recently discovered they may be able to replicate the alcohol.
What else remains at the bottom of the sea? Well-preserved items, such as the 16th Century Chinese porcelain, may continue to surface over time.