The Origins of the Lost Fleet of the Mongol Empire

The Origins of the Lost Fleet of the Mongol Empire

The Origins of the Lost Fleet of the Mongol Empire

The Origins of the Lost Fleet of the Mongol Empire

Synopsis

In The Origins of the Lost Fleet of the Mongol Empire, Randall Sasaki provides a starting point for understanding the technology of the failed Mongol invasion of Japan in 1281 CE, as well as the history of shipbuilding in East Asia. He has created a timber category database, analyzed methods of joinery, and studied contemporary approaches to shipbuilding in order to ascertain the origins and types of vessels that composed the Mongol fleet.

Although no conclusive statements can be made regarding the origins of the vessels, it appears that historical documents and archaeological evidence correspond well to each other, and that many of the remains analyzed were from smaller vessels built in China's Yangtze River Valley. Large, V-shaped cargo ships and the Korean vessels probably represent a small portion of the timbers raised at the Takashima shipwreck site.

Excerpt

The story of Kamikaze plays an important role in the history and society of Japan. the “original” Kamikaze, or divine wind, took place in the late thirteenth century ce. This was the time when the Mongols became the dominant force in East Asia, conquering vast territories and creating the largest empire in the world. After subjugating the peninsula country of Korea, Khubilai Khan, the emperor of the Mongols, decided to invade Japan. Khubilai sent naval forces across the Tsushima Straits in 1274 ce with nine hundred ships. Historical documents suggest that a fierce battle took place near Hakata in northern Kyūshū; however, the Mongols retreated after a few days of fighting, burning the city and damaging the prosperous center of international trade. Perhaps this was more of a raid in nature.

At the time, Khubilai had not completed the conquet time in history that the “barbarians” from the northern steppes conquered all of China. the task of conquering the great maritime empire of the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279 CE) was a watershed event in the history of East Asia. After receiving “the mandate of heaven” and becoming the unified ruler of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368 CE) of China, Khubilai once again set his eyes on invading the island nation of Japan. in 1281 ce he sent a massive fleet of more than 4,400 vessels from both China and Korea to conquer the land ruled by samurai. the fate of Japan as an independent nation was about to be decided. When the massive fleet was gathered in Imari Bay in western Japan, near the island of Takashima (fig. 1), a powerful typhoon struck the fleet and crushed the ships into pieces. Historical documents from China, Korea, and Japan all agree that most of the fleet, perhaps as many as 90 percent of the ships, was . . .

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