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In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sac-red river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea…

So wrote the opium-addicted 18th-century English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge after a dream about the great Mongol ruler Kublai Khan. A grandson of Genghis Khan, Kublai’s realm stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Black Sea, covering a fifth of the known world.

In 1279, he became the first non-Chinese emperor, establishing the Yuan Dynasty and ruling over China, present-day Mongolia, Korea and other Asian regions. But his ambition to occupy more lands led to one of his worst defeats when he sent his warships to invade Vietnam in 1288.

Now, 725 years later, Australian archaeologists are helping excavate the site where the mighty Kublai Khan’s invasion fleet of 400 was destroyed by the Vietnamese. Read more.

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