San Isidro Shipwreck

This shipwreck was inadvertently discovered in 1994 approximately nine kilometers from the nearest shoreline of Barangay San Isidro during the course of an underwater exploration conducted by the Underwater Archaeology Section of the National Museum and the Far Eastern Foundation for Nautical Archaeology off the waters of Barangay San Isidro, Cabangan Municipality, Zambales Province.

From January to March 1996, systematic excavations revealed a vessel approximately 15 meters long and six meters wide at a depth of 44 meters below sea level. The shipwreck contained a cargo of mostly Chinese porcelain blue and white ceramics popularly known as Swatow wares produced by the Zhangzhou kilns in Fujian Province. Majority of the ceramic wares appear in the form of dishes, saucers, bowls, jars, lids and a box. There are also a number of stoneware ceramics from Thailand and Vietnam. Non-ceramic items include iron bars, cooking cauldrons, a small knife and ecofacts such as betel nuts, coconut and a piece of root crop locally termed almaciga that is used for lighting fire.

Wood samples taken from the shipwreck showed that the keel is made from Vitex parviflora commonly known as molave and the planks are constructed from Pterocarpus indicus or narra. Preliminary analysis of the vessel structure suggested that the vessel may be a local plank-built boat similar to garay, parao and barangay. The vessel may have been used to transport cargo from bigger trading vessels such as Chinese junks that cannot dock on shore, directly to the land-based traders. Noticeable was the absence of ballast that led to the deduction that the iron bars could have also been used as ballast.

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