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Lena junk c. 1490

The junk 'Lena' sank around 1490 during the Ming-Dynasty in the reign of the Emperor Hongzhi (1470–1505). Chinese seafarers dominated the seas of the eastern hemisphere in the 15th century. These enterprising merchants not only supplied all of south east Asia with their goods, but also had strong trading connections as far as the middle east and Africa.

In 1405, emperor Yongle (1403-1424) launched the first of seven great maritime expeditions of the famous Treasure Fleet.

The destination of the junk 'Lena' remains an enigma. It can be assumed that after loading up with ceramics (some of which originated from the kilns at Jingdezhen, Longquan and Guangdong) as well as various other merchandise such as bronze gongs and bracelets, frying-pans and iron ingots, the junk set sail from the port of Zhejiang or Fujian.

The junk then made for southern China where it took on board jars of various types and then further on for a port in Siam where the holds were loaded with an additional quantity of ceramics from various kilns. The 'Lena' might also have touched the coast of the Malay peninsula and Sumatra where perhaps the tin ingots and copper utensils were loaded. The presence of Siamese goods on the shipwreck suggests that the junk followed the coastal route along the Chinese borders in order to get to Malacca where the cargo would then be exported towards the Middle-East. It is thus surprising to find this wreck lying to the north-east of Palawan, nearly 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 km) from a Siamese port or the Malacca Straits.