Maritime Archaeology in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Maritime Museum (HKMM) in partnership with the community based Hong Kong Underwater Heritage Group ( undertook an expedition in July 2016 to recover a Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE) or Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 CE) stone anchor stock, the location of which was identified in a 2014 survey of the waters off High Island, Sai Kung (Figures 1 & 2). 

The stock, located in 3 metres of water appears in excellent condition and following conservation treatment should be available for display in mid 2017. In addition to this initiative, private funds are being sought to pursue a second project to raise and conserve two iron cannon located off Basalt Island (Sai Kung) in approximately 12 metres of water. This second project will require the deployment of a lifting barge to safely retrieve the items and a long term commitment from the museum to conserve the retrieved artefacts. 

Increasing diver awareness 

The expedition is being led by Assistant Professor Dr. Bill Jeffery of the University of Guam and a long term Research Associate of HKMM. In-house conservator, Mr. Paul Harrison will be responsible for the initial conservation. The undertaking of such works in Hong Kong waters falls under the responsibility of the Hong Kong government Antiquities and Monuments Office.

The projects are a result of increasing diver awareness of the value of this material, which has been achieved through the teaching of some of the estimated 70,000 Hong Kong scuba divers the UK Nautical Archaeology Society’s maritime archaeology training program, which commenced in 2008 and is implemented on a regular basis at HKMM (Figure 3).


Figure 1: Stone anchor stock in the waters off High Island.


Figure 2: Similar style anchor stock found in the Maritime Silk Road of Guangdong in Yangjiang, China, which houses the Song Dynasty ship, Nanhai No.1.


Figure 3: Hong Kong scuba divers in front of the 36 tonne anchor from the Seawise Giant, to be displayed by the HKMM.