Mongol shipwreck to be first historical seabed site

Kyodo

The sea floor off Nagasaki Prefecture should be designated as a national historical site because of the wreck of a ship thought to have been used by 13th-century Mongol invaders, the Cultural Affairs Council has recommended.

The 384,000-sq.-meter area, about 200 meters off the island of Takashima, is expected to soon become the first underwater site to be awarded the designation. There are nearly 1,700 national historical sites in Japan.

The ship is believed to have sunk in a storm in 1281, during an ill-fated Mongol attempt to invade Kyushu.

Underwater excavations began at the site in 1980. Researchers from the University of the Ryukyus found the remains of the hull last year, including a 12-meter-long section of the keel and an outer panel.

Large amounts of porcelain and weaponry were also found in the vicinity.

The council determined the shipwreck to be a significant source of information on the 1281 Mongol attack, as well as on military activities and foreign affairs at that time. Before the discovery, information about the attack had only been gleaned from historical documents and records.

Granting the designation is seen promoting further research and preservation of underwater ruins. As of 2000, 216 such ruins had been confirmed beneath Japanese waters, according to a report by the education ministry’s Cultural Affairs Agency.