October 27, 2011 by staff
A long section of the keel of a wooden vessel, believed to have been one of the 4,000 sent by Kublai Khan to conquer Japan, was discovered under the seabed near Nagasaki, the Mainichi Shimbun and other media.
The massive invasion fleet of 1281 is believed to have been sunk by a powerful typhoon that came to be known in Japan as the “kamikaze” – a “divine wind” that protected a chosen nation.
The wreck, which is buried in a meter (three feet) of mud, was found by a team led by Yoshifumi Ikeda, a professor of archeology at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa.
The team found a 12-meter section of the keel with several long pieces of wood attached.
Experts estimate that the vessel was at least 20 feet long before it sank off the island of Takashima in the northern prefecture of Nagasaki.
Ikeda said a number of Chinese ceramics dating from the ages 12 and 13 also were found at the scene, helping to determine the age of the boat.
The Mongol Yuan Dynasty ruled China, initially led by the grandson of Genghis Khan, Kublai attempted to conquer the Japanese samurai warriors on two occasions in 1274 and 1281.
Some 900 ships were sent on the first try. Battles are fought in Kyushu, the southern main island of Japan, but not the invasion attempt.
The much larger, the second fleet of 4,400 ships sank in large part by the Japanese big typhoon attributed to divine intervention, giving currency to the notion of “kamikaze”, a word now largely suicide pilots World War II.
About 4,000 objects from the wreck, including the anchor, knew about, but the researchers hope the discovery of a section as large and well maintained boat will help them understand more about the invasion fleet.
“This discovery was of great importance to our research. We plan to expand efforts to seek and obtain additional information that can help us restore the entire ship,” said Ikeda.
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