China explores ancient sailors' legacy

2010-02-25 09:01 BJT

The national museums of China and Kenya are joining hands for an archeological dig on and around the Lamu Islands in Kenya.

Tantalizing clues exist as to the connection between the UNESCO World Heritage Site and China since long ago.

The national museums of China and Kenya are joining hands for an archeological dig on and around the Lamu Islands in Kenya. 
The national museums of China and Kenya are joining hands for an archeological
dig on and around the Lamu Islands in Kenya.

The goal of the three-year project is to excavate the sites where Chinese navigator Zheng He arrived in Kenya some 600 years ago.

Archaeologists from China National Museum will go to Kenya and work with their Kenyan counterparts for two months every year. They will investigate sites both on land and underwater, and examine the many examples of Chinese porcelain that have been unearthed.

The Lamu Islands, lying to the north of Kenya, are rich in history. In the hub of the Indian Ocean, the islands were one of the key points Zheng He's fleet passed on the way to Africa.

China has dispatched teams of experts since 2005 to the Islands. With local assistance, they have already confirmed the exact location of a legendary capsized Chinese ship which has been lying deep on the sea floor since 1415.

Chinese archaeologists believe the project will shed new light on China's trading history.