Naval Battlefield Archaeology of the Lost Kublai Khan Fleets



From AD 1274 Chinese emperor Kublai Khan dispatched fleets of ships in a series of attempts to expand the empire's hegemony and extend his rule into East Asia (Japan) and Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Champa and Java). Archaeological remains associated with the fleets and battles have been found at Takashima Island, Japan and on the Bạch Ðằng River, Vietnam. This paper develops a thematic approach to these sites within a framework of naval battlefield archaeology. It compares the similarities and differences in environmental conditions and archaeological contexts of the two sites in Japan and Vietnam. It also outlines recent archaeological research conducted between 2008 and 2010 on the physical remains at the Bạch Ðằng River battlefield site.