​​SINGAPORE, 26 May 2009 – Audiences around the world will now get to catch a glimpse of rare and well-preserved pieces of stoneware, and centuries-old gold and silver pieces including the largest Tang dynasty gold cup and an exquisitely decorated silver flask, that were all part of the treasure found in an ancient shipwreck off the coast of Indonesia.

The June issue of the internationally-distributed National Geographic magazine features a special article that explores the artefacts, attempting to unravel the mystery surrounding them. The value of the most important archaeological find ever made in Southeast Asia is not only in the treasure itself but also in the insights they give into the ancient trade of Tang dynasty China. Then on 8 August 2009, the National Geographic Channel will air Secrets of the Tang Treasure Ship – a collaboration between the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA), Singapore Tourism Board (STB), National Geographic and Singapore media company IFA Films. The one-hour, high-definition documentary will also be aired in other territories such as Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

“Beyond highlighting Singapore’s historical maritime role in one of the ancient world’s greatest trade routes, the documentary puts the spotlight on Asia’s rich and diverse heritage and history which can be woven into compelling tales to share with local and international audiences. By bringing the Tang shipwreck treasure to life, the documentary not only showcases Singapore’s capabilities and skills in factual programming but more importantly, underscores our commitment to create exciting New Asia Media content as we continue to unearth more ideas and stories from this part of the world,” said Mr Yeo Chun Cheng, Chief Information Officer and Director of Broadcast & Music at the MDA.

A ninth-century Arab dhow and more than 60,000 pieces of artefacts were found in shallow waters 17 metres deep about a decade ago by two sea cucumber divers. Later uncovered by a professional salvage diver, the 22-metre long traditional sailing vessel and its cargo provides strong evidence to suggest that the early Chinese seafarers were trading in items that suited the global market over 1,000 years ago. Stoneware found on the boat showed eclectic Chinese and Central Asian designs.

“National Geographic Channel is proud to introduce Secrets of the Tang Treasure Ship, a groundbreaking documentary that reveals the prosperity of the Tang Dynasty, one of the most successful eras in Chinese history. Archaeological programming is alwaysan audience favourite.There is a lot of interest in learning about the wisdomand success of our ancestors. This documentary is an international story with a local flavour andthe result of the combined efforts of National Geographic Channel and ourSingapore partners,” said Basil Chua, Territory Director, Singapore, National Geographic Channel Asia.

The treasure was purchased by the Sentosa Leisure Group in 2005 and is on loan to the Singapore Tourism Board. “The Tang Shipwreck Treasure is a priceless find that provides firm archaeological evidence of the existence of a Maritime Silk Route between the East and the West via Southeast Asia centuries ago. Behind the artefacts is a story that needs to be told – one of how people lived and traded in the early days, how they interacted with people of other lands. It also has a special meaning for Singapore which has a long and distinguished maritime history being strategically located at the cross-roads of maritime trade routes and home to the treasure. We are very glad for this opportunity to share what we know of the Tang Shipwreck Treasure with the world,” said Ms Jeannie Lim, Director of Attractions at the STB.

“We have uncovered a great deal of information in these past few years with research and engagement with various experts. Looking at other significant archaeological finds like Egypt’s Tomb of Tutankhamun and China’s Terracotta Warriors, we expect that to fully understand a treasure this significant, we will probably need many more decades of study before all the pieces of this centuries-old puzzle will fall into place.”

The STB is currently at the preliminary stage of discussions to house these exhibits permanently. STB is also working with the National University of Singapore (NUS)’s University Scholars Programme and NUS Museum to offer an academic module based on the shipwreck and supported by a study display of selected artefacts at the Museum. Titled “Sinbad, Shipwreck and Singapore”, this will be the first module to give undergraduates a first-hand experience with important archaeological discoveries in the region. Also in the pipeline are public talks by visiting experts at NUS Museum.

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About the Singapore Tourism Board:
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is an economic development agency for one of Singapore’s key service sectors – tourism. The mission of the Board is to develop and champion tourism, so as to build the sector into a key driver of economic growth for Singapore. The STB aims to differentiate and market Singapore as a memorable destination through the proliferation of the destination brand Uniquely Singapore.

About the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA):
Formed in 2003, the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) plays a vital role in transforming Singapore into a Trusted Global Capital for New Asia Media. MDA spearheads initiatives that promote industry growth in film, television, radio, publishing, music, games, animation and Interactive Digital Media. At the same time, in ensuring clear and consistent regulatory policies and guidelines, MDA helps to foster a pro-business environment for industry players and increase media choices for consumers. For more information, visit and

About the National Geographic Channel: 
National Geographic Channels International (NGCI) invites viewers to re-think the way they see television - and the world - with smart, innovative programming. A business enterprise owned by National Geographic Television (NGT) and FOX Entertainment Group, NGCI contributes to the National Geographic Society's commitment to exploration, conservation and education through its five channels: National Geographic Channel, National Geographic Channel HD, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Adventure and Nat Geo Music.

Globally, National Geographic Channel (including NGC U.S. which is a joint venture of NGT and Fox Cable Networks Group) is available in more than 305 million homes in 165 countries and 34 languages.

National Geographic Channel is available exclusively on StarHub TV Channel 11.

For more information, please visit:


Dish with lozenge & foliate motifs - Tang, 9th century, blue and white stoneware

Hu Ewer with dragon head - Tang, 9th century, white ware with green decor, North China

Octagonal Cup - Tang, early 9th century, Gold. Ht. 8.9cm, diam. rim 10.9cm, weight 624 g

Stemcup with drinking tube - Tang, 9th century. White ware with green decor. Ht. 9cm, diam foot 6.3cm