The bow of a ship believed to be from a 13th-century Mongol invasion attempt at the Takashima Kozaki underwater historic site in Matsuura, Nagasaki Prefecture, on Oct. 1. (Provided by the University of the Ryukyus and the Matsuura city board of education )
Planks from the wreck (Provided by the University of the Ryukyus and the Matsuura city board of education )
A wreck found off Takashima island here is likely part of a Mongol invasion fleet that came to grief in a typhoon more than 700 years ago.
The discovery was announced Oct. 2 by archeologists with the University of the Ryukyus and the Matsuura city board of education who are researching the Takashima Kozaki underwater historic site.
Numerous artifacts have been recovered from the seabed from wrecks of fleets dispatched in 1274 and 1281 to invade Japan.
In both invasion attempts, battles were fought in northern Kyushu. The fleet of 4,400 vessels sent by Kublai Khan in 1281 was wrecked near Takashima island in a storm the Japanese dubbed "kamikaze" (divine wind) for ultimately saving their homeland from the Mongols.
The latest wreck, discovered using shipboard sonar, lies 14 meters below the surface about 1.7 kilometers east of another Mongolian warship that was discovered in 2011.
Nine sites of interest were detected and divers found timbers in some of the spots.
The wreck mainly comprises the port and starboard structures near the bow of the ship. Planks on the starboard side are at least 11 meters long.
Divers also found stone ballast, prompting researchers to speculate that the ship's keel lies underneath.
The wreck is in a better state of preservation than the one found in 2011. But experts are unable to conclusively determine its origin as no artifacts like Chinese porcelain have been recovered.
"We really hope it is a Mongol invasion ship," said Yoshifumi Ikeda, a professor of archaeology at the university who is leading the research effort. "We plan to clarify details like its structure, size and origin by excavating further. It's well preserved, so we expect it to carry a significant load of cargo like porcelains and weapons."
The team plans to excavate the shipwreck in fiscal 2015.