Beginning in the 1920s, ancient relics were discovered in Nanhai Zhudao. In the 1970s, archaeological study of Nanhai Zhudao ushered in the stage of purposeful and planned scientific investigation and excavation, featuring land-based survey and excavation. In the early and middle 1990s, systematic and scientific investigation and excavation of Nanhai Zhudao was jointly launched by archaeologists from the Chinese Mainland and Taiwan. In the mid-late 1990s, underwater archeology survey and excavation were introduced by archaeologists from Chinese Mainland and Taiwan. So far, Xisha Qundao has witnessed the most comprehensive archaeological survey among islands of Nanhai Zhudao, followed by Dongsha Qundao, while only preliminary efforts have been made in certain islands of Nansha Qundao and the archeological work of Zhongsha Qundao remains a blank. The archaeological survey of Nanhai Zhudao can be divided into island archeology and underwater archeology. The former is mainly aimed at cultural relics on the islands both above and under ground, while the latter primarily deals with underwater heritage among reefs, in the lagoons and other surrounding waters.
Archaeological discoveries in Nanhai Zhudao and the adjacent seas have corroborated the fact that ancient Chinese ancestors had long lived on Nanhai Zhudao and conducted fishing activities in the nearby seas, that the Chinese Government had conducted inspections and jurisdiction over them and made conscious efforts to develop and utilize them, and supported the claim of their being an inseparable part of Chinese territory since ancient times.