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Initial reports following the discovery on September 7 pointed to a 14th century date for the vessel, with what appears to be a number of pieces of porcelain, largely intact, being brought to the surface.

However, Bonhams' global head of Asian Art, Colin Sheaf, who has seen a picture of some of the recovered porcelain, believes the wreck may date from later.

"If this boat is confirmed as 14th century, it will be an interesting Yuan dynasty 'blue and white porcelain' parallel to the Yuan shipwreck of Chinese celadon excavated in Korean waters a long while ago," he told ATG. "Almost all Chinese porcelain-trading shipwrecks found so far in the South China Sea date from at least 150 years later, when the export trade to the north coasts of the Indonesian islands was much busier."

Coins discovered on the ship may help to date it more accurately.

It is not yet clear how large the cargo is, or how much of the ship remains.