Ancient Trinkets Unearthed In Medan
Medan, North Sumatra. Archeologists excavating an ancient Chinese trading site in Medan have uncovered shards of porcelain, glass beads and even gold trinkets that they believe was part of the cargo of a 13th-century ship discovered nearby.
Ichwan Azhari, head of the historical and social studies center at Medan State University, said on Friday that the find was made on Wednesday afternoon by a team of French archeologists working in the Medan Marelan area.
“The likelihood that the items found are part of an ancient cargo consignment is strengthened by the fact that they were found so close to where we found the ship,” he said.
The remains of the ship, a Chinese trading vessel, was discovered in 1989 on the shores of lake Siombak in Medan Marelan. The site used to host a trading port set up by Chinese merchants and that thrived between 1100 and 1600 AD.
Ichwan said the latest discovery was made in an excavation site in the front yard of the Chinatown Museum in Medan Marelan. The museum was built over the site of the old trading port.
Ichwan said the archeologists, led by Daniel Perret from the French School of Far Eastern Studies (EFEO), found the items in a box buried less than two meters deep.
The box contained Chinese porcelain, glass beads and trinkets made from gold and iron.
“What we don’t know yet is what era they come from, who they belonged to and so on,” Ichwan explained. “That will require further testing and research to determine.”
Perret’s team began excavating the site in April last year, and since then has uncovered similar items. The latest find comes at the end of their current excavation project.
Ichwan, who was also involved in the dig, said he hoped that the series of excavations already carried out, as well as future ventures, would help paint a clearer picture of the ancient trading port, which was believed to be a transit point for merchant vessels plying the route between China and the Middle East.
“Our hope is that from these evacuations, we can uncover the mystery of this ancient and very important site,” he said.
However, archeologists have expressed concern that unfettered property development in the Medan Marelan area will destroy any chance of significant new discoveries.
Edwards McKinnon from Cornell University in the United States, who studied the area extensively between 1972 and 1977, said the new findings should hammer home the importance of preserving the integrity of the site for further study. “With this finding, the Medan authorities should take serious steps to preserve the Chinatown site before it gets completely taken over by people,” he said.
McKinnon’s own excavation projects uncovered ancient Chinese porcelain relics and Buddhist statues.