Mongolian ship’s anchor recovered from seabed off Nagasaki after 741 years – The Mainichi

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
October 25, 2023

MATSUURA, Nagasaki — An anchor from a Mongolian ship that sank off the coast of an island in this southwestern Japan city during an attempt to invade Japan in 1281 has been recovered.

So far, nine anchors have been salvaged during harbor construction surveys, but this is the first time that a planned retrieval has been carried out. Two Mongolian ships have been identified on the seafloor, and the latest recovery will serve as a stepping stone toward the salvage of the ships themselves.

The anchor of a Mongolian ship pulled up from the seafloor lies on a truck bed in Takashima Island in Matsuura, Nagasaki Prefecture, on Oct. 1, 2022. (Mainichi/Hiroshi Watanuki)

The anchor is a combination of a wood and stone. A balloon was used on Oct. 1 to lift its wooden part from the seafloor some 20 meters below the surface. Floating in the water about 150 meters offshore of Takashima Island, it was then towed to the shore and lifted up with a crane to surface from the depths for the first time in 741 years.

The V-shaped anchor is approximately 175 centimeters long and its estimated weight is a little under 200 kilograms. It was transported by truck to the municipal archaeological center and stored in a tank filled with seawater. It will be preserved for about two years by soaking it in water mixed with trehalose, a type of sugar that prevents twisting and warping of wood.

The anchor differs in type from the previous nine anchors that were salvaged, which had anchor stones on both sides of the wood, and it may provide clues to the procurement methods and composition of the Mongolian fleet.

The anchor of a Mongolian ship is stored in a tank filled with seawater in Takashima Island in Matsuura, Nagasaki Prefecture, on Oct. 1, 2022. (Mainichi/Hiroshi Watanuki)

The anchor’s stone part, about 230 cm long, was recovered on Oct. 2, and was to be put on public display at the center from Oct. 8, along with the wooden part.

The recovery was carried out by the Matsuura Municipal Government with a budget of approximately 19 million yen (about $131,000), including central government and prefectural subsidies and funds collected through crowdfunding. Since it is difficult for a local government to salvage a ship by itself, Mayor Yoshiyasu Tomoda expressed his hope that the national government would make efforts to do so.

(Japanese original by Hiroshi Watanuki, Sasebo Bureau)