December 8, 2016 was an exciting day in Shanghai as experts announced that the discovery of the Qinglong Town archaeological site proved for the first time that Shanghai was another major port along the ancient Maritime Silk Road. Due to its importance in filling in a gap in history, the site was later named on April 12 one of China's Top 10 New Archaeological Discoveries of 2016.[Special coverage]
According to experts, the discovery at the Qinglong Town site of more than 6,000 ancient ceramic wares originating from kilns across southern China has served as evidence that the site was once an important port on the Maritime Silk Road, a vital trade route that took form during the late Western Han (206BC-AD25) and later boasted a booming trade in Chinese-made commodities such as silk and porcelain during the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties.
"The fact that we found a large number of porcelain wares at the site that are very similar to those discovered in places in Japan and the Korean Peninsula tells us these porcelain wares may have been transported from kilns in southern China to Qinglong town and then shipped overseas to countries such as Japan and the ancient Korean kingdom of Goryeo," Chen Jie, the Qinglong Town project leader and also head of the Shanghai Museum's Institute of Archaeology, told the Xinhua News Agency in December 2016.
Major underwater evidence
Moreover, the wreck of the Nanhai No.1, a Song Dynasty merchant ship, is another piece of solid evidence of the frequent maritime trade taking place between China and the rest of the world during that time.