The Remains of an Ancient Armada

Khubilai Khan

Seven hundred years after sinking to the bottom in the seething waters of a legendary battle, shipwreck fragments, pieces of armor, weapons, bones, and other relics lie submerged off the coast of Japan. These are the remains of Khubilai Khan’s navy, sent to invade Japan, but lost in the swirl of an ancient storm.

In Khubilai Khan’s Lost Fleet, James P. Delgado describes how in 1279 Khubilai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, conquered China and became the leader of the largest navy in the world. Twice he sent ships to invade Japan, but was defeated both times. Legend holds that as Khubilai’s ships waited off Japan’s shores, a “divine wind” rose and dashed the ships against each other, destroying all those who could not flee, and crushing the Khan’s hopes of adding Japan to his empire.

As a maritime archaeologist, Delgado pieces together the sunken evidence to reveal the fate of this doomed armada. In this Archaeology Magazine video, Delgado talks to ArchaeologyTV about exploring and excavating these ancient wrecks.