National Museum’s ‘home series’ features Kanduli Shoal shipwreck near Palawan

In a post on January 4, Rachelle Ureta of the MUCHD of the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) wrote that in 1985, together with the French team of underwater archeologist Franck Goddio, their electronic surveys searching for a British East Indiaman vessel Royal Captain, accidentally found the presence of a much older cargo hidden in a coral structure. 

The Kanduli Shoal Shipwreck. | Text and Poster by Rachelle Ureta/ NMP MUCHD Photos © Franck Goddio, Christoph Gerigk © National Museum of the Philippines (2021)

The #MuseumFromHomeSeries of the National Museum online has featured the second shipwreck found in Kanduli Shoal, also known as Royal Captain Shoal, near Palawan.

In a post on January 4, Rachelle Ureta of the MUCHD of the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) wrote that in 1985, together with the French team of underwater archeologist Franck Goddio, their electronic surveys searching for a British East Indiaman vessel Royal Captain, accidentally found the presence of a much older cargo hidden in a coral structure.

“The materials were dated to the 16th to 17th centuries CE, roughly 200 years older than Royal Captain,” Ureta wrote.

This second shipwreck site was named Kanduli (Royal Captain) Shoal Shipwreck, lying 4-5 meters deep on top of the shoal or what is technically called a coral atoll, a ring-shaped coral reef, island, or series of islets surrounding a body of water called a lagoon.

 

Some porcelains and jar found on the 16th century Kanduli (Royal Captain) Junk site. | Text and Poster by Rachelle Ureta/ NMP MUCHD Photos © Franck Goddio, Christoph Gerigk © National Museum of the Philippines (2021)

Among the archeological materials that the team retrieved from the shipwreck include Chinese blue-and-white porcelains, monochrome porcelains, bronze gongs, glass beads, iron ingots, earthenware, stoneware jars, and some bone fragments inside the jars.

“The porcelains comprising of plates, saucers, bowls, cups, boxes, bottles, and jarlets were identified as Zhangzhou wares produced in the region of Fujian Province, China. The glass beads’ characteristics, particularly the wound type, suggest a Chinese origin. Similar types have also been found in the terrestrial sites in Bolinao, Pangasinan; Calatagan, Batangas; Porac, Pampanga, and Sta. Ana, Manila, dated from the 14th to 16th centuries,” said the post.

 

The excavation site of the Kanduli (Royal Captain) Junk. | Text and Poster by Rachelle Ureta/ NMP MUCHD Photos © Franck Goddio, Christoph Gerigk © National Museum of the Philippines (2021)

The post said no wooden remains in the shipwreck site and this might be because it was in a shallow position. This condition, the post said, exposed the wreck to natural elements and human activities that hastened deterioration.

Nonetheless, the NMP said the Kanduli Shoal Shipwreck was believed to be an Asian vessel as shown by the nature of the archeological materials recovered.

“The investigators believed that the vessel engaged in Southeast Asian intra-regional trade, possibly covering the Borneo to Manila route. The vessel may have been on its way to Borneo from China when it struck the uncharted atoll during the northeast monsoon that sealed its fate,” it claimed.

 

Map by Franck Goddio showing the location of the Kanduli Shoal (then identified as Royal Captain Shoal), China (inset), and Borneo.  | Text and Poster by Rachelle Ureta/ NMP MUCHD Photos © Franck Goddio, Christoph Gerigk © National Museum of the Philippines (2021)

In its feature, the NMP reminds that archaeological study is important in supporting the accurate interpretation of past events, which helps in reconstructing our history.

“When a site is disturbed or pilfered, we lose information forever without the significant context to assist us in piecing together our story. This is much more valuable than the selfish individual’s monetary gain or enriching their personal collections,” the post said.

“Our heritage and recounting its narrative through material culture benefits future generations and our aspirations as a nation. If you see or have knowledge of sites being looted, report to your local government authorities immediately or contact the closest NMP office near you,” the NMP added.

 

 

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