The Lingga Wreck: An Early 12th Century Southeast Asian Ship with a Chinese Cargo

Text by Michael Flecker, underwater & onsite photographs courtesy PT Cosmix Asia, all other illustrations and photos by the author



Many shipwrecks have been looted throughout Southeast Asia in recent years. The only sign that they ever existed is a surge in ceramic sales at antique dealer hubs in Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok, Manila and Hong Kong. The Lingga Wreck came close to suffering the same fate. She was discovered by fishermen in Indonesia. After initial looting, a licensed company excavated the site without archaeological supervision. Archaeological investigation did take place, albeit a little late in the process. The results of the investigation and follow-up research are presented in this Report. The Lingga Wreck is a Southeast Asian lashed-lug ship with a Chinese cargo of iron and Guangdong ceramics. A precise date of loss has been determined, within the last few years of the Northern Song dynasty, along with the likely port of embarkation and intended destination of the ship. The Lingga Wreck site may now be added to a slowly growing list of shipwrecks that enhance our knowledge of Asian shipping and maritime trade during the pre-modern period.

Keywords: Shipwreck, lashed-lug, Northern Song, Srivijaya, Guangdong ceramics, iron, Guangzhou, Riau, Batanghari River, Indragiri River.