26 Oct 2011

Mongol shipwreck found

8:50 am on 26 October 2011

Archaeologists have discovered the wreck of a ship that was part of a fleet sent to invade Japan by the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan, more than 700 years ago.

The wooden ship was found off the southern island of Kyushu, a metre under the seabed.

The hull, which is almost complete, and the keel are the most intact remains of a Mongol wreck found in Japanese waters.

Archaeologists say it was part of an invasion fleet carrying 140,000 Mongol soldiers in 1281.

Researchers from the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa used ultrasonic equipment to detect the remains of the ship.

The wood on the hull was painted whitish grey and held together by nails. Bricks, weapons and other instruments were found on board.

The BBC reports the Japanese have always attributed their victory to storms that wrecked the Mongol fleets during two attempted invasions in 1274 and 1281.

They concluded that Japan was protected from invasion by a divine wind, (Kamikaze), which was invoked in World War II to inspire pilots to launch suicide attacks on allied ships.