A 210-millimeter shell from the ship wreckage named Jing Yuan sunk in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) off the coast of Weihai, East China's Shandong Province, reported China's Central Television on March 4, 2023. (Photo/Screenshot from online)
Archaeologists recently discovered ammunition including a 210-millimeter shell from the wreckage of a ship sunk in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
The 400-square-meter excavation was conducted in autumn last year on the wreck, which is off the coast of Weihai, East China's Shandong Province. The archaeologists found a total of 201 relics. They included copper-made daily necessities, some iron and wooden components of the ship body, and rubber insoles and mattresses.
The ship, named Jing Yuan, had a boiler compartment, a bow ammunition compartment, stern ammunition compartment, and other areas that have not yet been explored.
Among the relics, experts recognized two boxes of Hotchkiss 37 mm bullets, the first time these have been discovered in China, and one 210-mm Krupp shell, the largest ever found in Chinese underwater archaeology.
Located 1.1 kilometers off Weihai Bay, the wreck of the Jing Yuan has been completely buried 1.2 to 2.4 meters under the seabed mud, and the ruins are spread across an area of 850 square meters.
Experts say that the discoveries have corrected some ideas about the Beiyang Fleet, which was set up in 1888 on Liugong Island in Shandong to resist invasion by the Japanese navy.
"We tended to have rumors that a lot of shells had sand mixed in, which undermined the defense capability of the fleet," said Wang Zebing, a member of the Shandong Underwater Archeology Team, on Saturday.
"But based on the massive shells we found at the site, there was in fact a round of intense counterattacks from our fleet during the war at that time," Wang noted. "The ammunition they used was advanced in fact."
Historical records show that in 1886, the Qing government ordered two dome-clad cruisers from the Armstrong Shipyard of the UK, one of which was the Jing Yuan. The other ship was the Zhi Yuan, which was discovered in 2015 in the Huanghai Sea off Northwest China's Liaoning Province.