Archeologists are criticizing the Smithsonian Institution over a planned show of objects salvaged from a shipwreck in the Java Sea, saying that the company that recovered the objects from the wreck did not observe professional archeological standards in doing so, the Web site Science Now reported Thursday. The ship, a ninth-century Arab dhow that carried glazed ceramics and gold and silver vessels from China, was discovered in Indonesian waters in the late 1990s and salvaged by a German company called Seabed Explorations GbR. In 2005, according to Science Now, most of the objects were sold to a company in Singapore for a reported $32 million. (The exhibition is currently on display at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.)
Three archeological associations and three of the Smithsonian’s internal research organizations have written to the Smithsonian’s secretary, G. Wayne Clough, opposing the exhibition, arguing, among other things, that because of the methods employed by Seabed Explorations, valuable scientific information was lost. The Smithsonian has scheduled a panel of archeologists and other experts to discuss concerns about the exhibition in April.