The Bạch Đằng Survey, 2011
In 1287 – 1288, Kublai Khan launched a naval invasion of Vietnam. The legendary Vietnamese general Trần Hưng Đạo withdrew in front of the advancing force, drawing a massive Mongolian armada up the Bạch Đằng River. The invasion fleet was cut off from supplies and ambushed by the Vietnamese. Trần Hưng Đạo’s forces trapped a retreating mass of warships with a barricade of massive wooden spikes and set them on aflame with fire ships, crushing Kublai Khans hopes in Vietnam.
Over seven centuries later, the ancient battle has been covered by sediment and rice paddies. An international team of archaeologists from Japan, Australia, Vietnam and the United States is searching for evidence of the historic conflict. The team has documented buried stake yards, and is searching for shipwrecks. During the 2011 expedition, addition to extensive coring, we used several remote sensing techniques, including magnetometer/gradiometer survey, sidescan sonar survey and ground penetrating radar. The ongoing project has been supported by National Geographic Magazine, the Waitt Institute for Discovery and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology.
Veronica and I will be posting updates and photos from the 2011 expedition – we met the most amazing people!