Our underwater heritage encompasses the rich cultural relics of humankind. Such heritage, discovered through underwater archaeological investigations, provides testimony to our shared history and theSilk Routes which Chinese,Arab, Asian and Western traders followed for over 2000 years.
The term, “die Seidenstraße” (The Silk Routes), was first coined by the Germangeologist Ferdinand Von Richthofen in 1877. The name was given to the ancient and extensivetranscontinental trade network connecting the East and the West. In the second century BCE, the imperial envoy Zhang Qian was dispatched to Central Asia during the time of the Han dynasty. Maritime trade starting from South China towards Central and West Asia was developed and commercial relations between the East and the West began to flourish.
The spread of culture, decorative style and religious ideas came as a result of centuries of maritime trade between China and the world. The artefacts on display include materials from different cultures such as export ceramics from China and Southeast Asia and gemstones from Southeast and Central Asia. Some relics were even recovered through local underwater archaeological investigations. They all reflect trade development and cultural interactions between China and other countries.
With the generous support of the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust for the “Activating Local Records – the Story of High Island (Leung Shuen Wan)” project, as well as the support of the Museum’s Collections Committee and distinguished local collectors, it has been possible for the Museum to present this permanent exhibition about “Maritime Silk Routes”. It covers recent underwater archaeological discoveries and topics related to High Island and the Sai Kung sea, and aims to help visitors to understand Hong Kong's role in the ancient maritime trade network that stretched across the Pearl Delta River Region, Southern China, Asia and beyond.