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The Kubilai Khan's Lost Fleet Project

Scientific Direction: Dr. Daniele Petrella, Ph.D.
Starting and ending year: 2012-2015

Many of the most remarkable events in human history are often still shrouded between reality and legend or, more simply, known through written sources that amplify the facts.

This is what happened to what, until today, could be considered one of the most impressive invasions attempts in ancient history: that of Kubilai Khan's invasion of Japan.

According to written tradition, in 1281, the then emperor of China and Great Khan of the Mongols, Kubilai Khan, grandson of the feared Genghis, attempted to invade Japan for the second time. Two fleets from southern China and Korea, totalling 4500 ships and 150,000 men, headed for the archipelago with the intention of punishing the small country that had refused to establish tributary relations with the Empire.

Sources narrate that this impressive fleet was stopped twice (in 1274 and 1281) by a typhoon, commonly known as the 'Black Current', which the Japanese christened 'Divine Wind', or kamikaze.

This important event was only known through the pages of the Yuan Shi, the Chronicles of the Yuan Dynasty, and, after centuries, was now reduced to a legend told in school.

But where was the huge fleet sunk in 1281? And that of 1274?

In 2006, Daniele Petrella, now president of IRIAE, began to personally participate in the search for the fleet by collaborating with ARIUA.

Over the years, the results obtained were incredible: the discovery of the Fleet changed our knowledge of an entire page of history and Italy not only played an important role in the research, but also held the record as the first western country to structure an official collaboration with Japan in the field of archaeology on Japanese territory.

In 2009, it became the first Italian archaeological expedition to Japan with the support and funding of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and will be inherited by the IRIAE in 2012.

It also enjoyed, for the first few years, the collaboration of the Sicilian Region's Superintendency of the Sea and the late Sebastiano Tusa himself.

Daniele Petrella Hayashida Kenzo Sebasti
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