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Second 13th century Mongolian shipwreck found off Japan

A shipwreck found here is the second confirmed vessel from a 13th century Mongolian fleet that foundered in a typhoon in a failed attempt to invade Japan, researchers said July 2.

Second 13th century Mongolian shipwreck found off Japan
The bow of a ship believed to be from a 13th century Mongolian invasion attempt,
 off Matsuura, Nagasaki Prefecture [Credit: University of the Ryukyus]
Archaeologists from the University of the Ryukyus and the Matsuura city board of education determined that the wreck was a part of the Mongolian invasion fleet partly based on its structure.

Chinese ceramic wares dating from the 12th to 13th centuries were discovered in and around the wreck, backing up their conclusion, they said.

The research team, which is surveying around the Takashima Kozaki underwater archaeological site, discovered the shipwreck last autumn around 200 meters off the southern coast of Takashima island and 15 meters below the surface.

The remains of the ship measure 12 meters long and maximum 3 meters wide. The wreck was lying on the seabed apparently with its bow pointing southward.

Yoshifumi Ikeda, a professor of archaeology at the University of the Ryukyus who is leading the research project, said his team has found potential shipwrecks from the Mongolian invasion at three other locations.

“We have successfully confirmed the two ships from the Mongolian invasion, and further research on them is expected to lead to the discovery of even more sunken Mongolian ships,” Ikeda said.

The first confirmed Mongolian warship was discovered in 2011 around 1.7 kilometers west of the wreck found last year.

Numerous artifacts have been found on the seabed in the Takashima Kozaki site from wrecks of a fleet dispatched in the second Mongolian attempt to invade Japan in 1281. The two invasion attempts in 1274 and 1281 ended in vain as the both fleets were destroyed in typhoons.

Second 13th century Mongolian shipwreck found off Japan
A white porcelain bowl found near the shipwreck off Matsuura, Nagasaki Prefecture 
[Credit: University of the Ryukyus]
The latest ship is estimated to have measured about 20 meters from bow to stern and 6 to 7 meters wide, slightly smaller than the first ship.

Its body was split by nine wooden bulkheads and was loaded with rocks that were apparently used as ballast. The boat’s keel has not been found. The archaeologists believe it remains buried at the bottom of the sea.

About 20 artifacts, including a white porcelain bowl, brown glaze pottery vase, roof tiles and ironware, have been discovered in and around the wreck, the researchers said.

Authors: Sunao Gushiken and Sei Iwanami | Source: The Asahi Shimbun [July 03, 2015]

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