The British firm Maritime Exploration was looking for a Dutch East India Company shipwreck in the South China Sea in 1987 when it came across something more elusive: an intact merchant vessel from the 1100s. With the Chinese company Guangzhou Salvage, the team was trying to locate a ship belonging to the trading company that had sunk in the 1700s. Instead, in the waters between Hong Kong and Hailing Island in Guangdong Province, they found a 100-foot-long junk dated to the Southern Song period of the 12th century.
In 1125 the Song dynasty lost control of northern China. The emperor retreated south and soon set up a new capital at Lin’an (today Hangzhou). Known as the Southern Song, this state survived and even flourished.