A shipwreck has been discovered off Japan that might belong to one of Kublai Khan's lost fleets. Photo Credit: Almokla/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

Divers and researchers believe they may have stumbled across a shipwreck from one of Mongol emperor Kublai Khan’s failed invasions of Japan. The keel of a wooden ship was discovered under three feet of silt in less than 90 feet of water.

Ship dates to 13th century invasion

Kublai Khan, head of the Mongol Empire and Yuan Dynasty of China during the late 13th century, encountered his most bitter defeats during two attempted invasions of Japan. Both defeats came at the hands of nature. In 1274 and 1281, the Mongol fleets were smashed by powerful typhoons, referred to as kamikaze or “divine winds.”

In both instances, the Mongol fleet turned back and those left behind were slaughtered. Besides various items scattered across the sea floor, not much from the Mongol fleets were found, until recently.

According to CNN, a team of divers and researchers from Okinawa’s University of Ryukus discovered a ship’s keel a few feet underneath the silt of the seafloor off Nagasaki. The ship was discovered while combing the seafloor with ultrasound equipment, revealing a complete section of the hull about 12 meters (about 36 feet) in length.

Reconstruction may follow

The ship may have been up to 20 meters in length, according to Time.

The ship was so well preserved by the ocean sands that the planks of the hull are still attached to the keel by nails, according to CNN. Ultrasound imaging was even able to detect that the wreck was painted a light shade of gray, as the paint was still left on the wood after laying at the bottom for more than 800 years.

It is the only shipwreck from the period to be discovered with an intact hull, and more than 4,000 artifacts from the ship were found around it. An archaeologist involved in the discovery was quoted as saying that the find will help greatly in a reconstruction, which will go to great lengths in demonstrating ship-building techniques from late 13th century China.

The second Mongol invasion of Japan in 1281, which the ship dates from, involved up to 4,400 vessels and more than 150,000 men, according to the Daily Mail. After some initial victories, the Mongol ships were battered by a typhoon in the Tsushima Straits, sinking 80 percent of the fleet. Those who didn’t drown were killed as they came ashore. It was said at the time, according to CNN, that one could almost walk across the wreckage.

Not the only shipwreck news

In other shipwreck-related news, a cannon has been extricated off the coast of North Carolina, according to the Washington Post, from what is believed to be the Queen Anne’s Revenge, flagship of infamous pirate Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard. It is thought that Blackbeard scuttled the ship after running aground near Beaufort Inlet, N.C. sometime around hisĀ 1717 blockade of Charleston, S.C.

Researchers have been pulling up artifacts from the ship for months but recently hauled up an 8-foot-long, 1-ton cannon from the shipwreck. After examination and treatment, it will go on display at the Beaufort Maritime Museum.



Daily Mail:


Washington Post:

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