Chinese archaeologists have unearthed a wooden boat dating back at least 7,500 years in Xiaoshan City of east China's Zhejiang Province.
It is the most ancient boat ever discovered in China. "The discovery of a boat this ancient is a rare event in the archaeological history of the world," said Jiang Leping, a researcher with the Zhejiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.
Great Britain discovered a wooden oar used 7,500 years ago, but failed to find any boat remains.
The dugout canoe, two meters long and 70 centimeters broad at its widest place with a 15-centimeter-deep hold, has two spiles, or wooden pegs, shaped like tree stumps on each side.
Mao Zhaoxi, a professor in the History Department of Zhejiang University, considers that the canoe is quite valuable for research on the history of boat-building used by human beings in the Neolithic Age.
According to this historian, a boat dating back about 5,000 years was excavated earlier this year in Suzhou City, in east China's Jiangsu Province. However, the newly-discovered canoe confirms that the country's boat-building history extends back an additional 2,000 years.
A four meter-wide ravine, once a silt-filled river, was also excavated near the site where the canoe was found. In view of the fact that several oars and some wood have been found in the ravine, experts believe that ancient people used to build boats along the river.
The canoe excavation site, also known as the Kuahuqiao ruins, contains the most ancient Neolithic cultural relics in Zhejiang. Over the past decade, numerous pieces of precious pottery, stoneware and jade articles dating back 7,000 to 8,000 years have been discovered there.
(Xinhua News Agency November 21, 2002)