SAKURAI, Nara Prefecture—New excavations at the Makimuku archaeological dig here have unearthed the remains of a building that further indicate the palace of the shaman queen Himiko was located on the site in the earliest days of Japan, municipal education board officials said Feb. 6.
"The latest finding virtually confirms that buildings stood in a regular geometry along the central axis of a quadrangular area stretching 150 meters from east to west," said Hironobu Ishino, director of the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Archaeology. "That is an extraordinary dimension for third-century artifacts. It now appears ever more likely that the site represents the residential area of the two queens of the Yamatai state, Himiko and her successor, Toyo, who are mentioned in an official chronicle of China." Read more.
NARA – Archaeologist Susumu Morimoto recently made a landmark discovery that could change today’s views of Japan’s ancient measuring system and of the Yayoi Period (300 B.C. to 300).
The head of the International Cooperation Section at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties discovered that what were believed to be grinding stones from the first half of Yayoi, about 2,400 years ago, are actually weights for scales.
“This would be my first and last discovery, and the greatest (in my life as a researcher),” Morimoto, 54, said.
“Compared with the continent (China), people back in that period are often considered barbaric,” he said. “But it may have been a more advanced era already with measurements and mathematics.” Read more.
An archaeological exhibition, touring Japan and now making a stop in Tokyo, is offering a breathtaking glimpse into the lifestyles and thoughts of people who inhabited the Japanese archipelago from prehistoric through medieval times.
Titled “Hakkutsu Sareta Nihon Retto 2013” (The excavated Japanese islands 2013), the exhibit is made up of 510 artifacts from 32 archaeological sites across Japan. The Agency for Cultural Affairs is one of the organizers, and The Asahi Shimbun Co. is among its sponsors.
A 2.8-centimeter-long, comma-shaped “magatama” jade bead and a bronze mirror are among the finds unearthed from the Inuyama Tenjinyama burial mound in Tokushima, the capital of Tokushima Prefecture. Read more.
Japan’s ancient ‘Kofun’ burial mounds: Fusion of traditional archaeology with cutting edge information technology to uncover the mysteries of ancient civilizations.
Professor Izumi Niiro is an archaeologist using powerful geographic information systems technology to accurately survey Japanese burial mounts or ‘Kofun’ built between the third to seventh centuries.
"I first became aware of geographic information systems during a sabbatical at Southampton University in 1991,” explains Professor Niiro. “I decided to experiment with this technology for archaeological surveying when I returned to Japan. It enables me to visualize and analyze many types of geographical information such as topographic details of maps.” Read more.
SAKURAI, Nara Prefecture—Once used to hide a face, a wooden mask fragment recently discovered here and currently on public display hints at ancient cultural links between this part of western Japan and China, archaeologists said May 30.
According to the Sakurai city board of education, the mask unearthed at the Daifuku archaeological site likely dates to the latter half of the second century in light of accompanying finds.
This places it several decades earlier than the previously oldest known wooden mask in Japan, which was unearthed at the nearby Makimuku site.
The latest find from Daifuku represents only the left side of what would have been a whole mask. It is made of Japanese umbrella pine and is 23 centimeters long, up to 7 cm wide and 5 millimeters thick. There are no artificial patterns or coloring on its surface. Read more.
Pottery offers a bonanza of information for archaeologists. It represents a revolution in container technology, and the clay from which it is made provides a canvas with many possibilities for self-expression. As a result, differences and similarities in pottery decorations can offer clues about cultural relationships over space and through time.
Residues on pots reveal important clues to how people used their pottery. An international team of scientists reported last month in the journal Nature the results of chemical analyses of the charred gunk on the surfaces of pottery shards from Jomon period sites in Japan. They determined it was composed mostly of the oily residue from cooking ocean fish.
The Jomon culture was mentioned in other news this month. The largest ever genetic study of native South Americans identified a sub-population in Ecuador with an unexpected link to eastern Asia. The study, published in PLOS Genetics, concluded that Asian genes had been introduced into South America sometime after 6,000 years ago — the same time the Jomon culture was flourishing in Japan. Read more.
Two recent events suggest that the Northern Japanese may have had some sort of trade relations with Koreans as early as the stone age, and that they have pronounced several kanji characters similarly. Archaeologists have discovered a couple of stone tools with a tanged point resembling a hunting knife used some 20,000 to 25,000 years ago, one in the Kaminoa ruins in Shinjo, Yamagata Prefecture, and the other at the Jingeuneul site near Gwangju, South Korea.
Similarly, researchers in Tokyo, working with their Korean counterparts, discovered kanji characters, believed to have been unique to Japan, written on an old wooden plate were also found in wooden strips in South Korea. Many other similar tools have been found mostly in Kyushu, the main Japanese island nearest the Korean Peninsula. Read more.
A team of archaeologists and researchers have discovered an ancient Chinese arrowhead in western Japan’s Okayama Prefecture, the first of its kind, they say, to be unearthed in the country. Made of bronze, the ancient weapon has been dated as far back as 475 BC to 221 BC, a time in ancient Chinese history known as the warring states period.
The scientists formally describe the artifact as a “double-winged bronze arrowhead,” and say it was dug up in the Minamigata ruins located in Okayama City. The arrowhead measures half an inch (1.3 centimeters) wide and 1.4 inches long (3.5 cm) long. Interestingly it was found alongside the remains of several artifacts from Japan’s Iron Age, including fragments of pottery and stone tools dating to 300 BC to 100 BC, or the Yayoi period. Read more.