Indonesia to Auction Ancient Shipwreck Treasure

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JAKARTA (REUTERS).- Indonesia will auction on Wednesday a 10th century treasure trove worth an estimated $80 million which was salvaged from a Chinese shipwreck off the island of Java about five years ago. Gold jewelry studded with rubies and sapphires as well as Chinese porcelain are among the 271,000 items that will go under the hammer at a government auction house in Jakarta, an official said. “Ceramics account for about 90 percent of the findings,” Aris Kabul, the secretary of the auction committee, told Reuters. The shipwreck was found 90 miles off Cirebon, in West Java, following a tip-off from local fishermen in 2004 and it took 30 divers and some 22,000 dives to recover the treasure. About 20 companies and individuals have shown interest in the auction, said an Indonesian fisheries ministry official, Sudirman Saad. “Most have come from Beijing, although there is also the National Museum of Singapore,” Saad said. Saad said that despite expressing interest, no one had paid