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Artist impression of the seventh century Koyamada Burial Mound Moat
Image credit the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara
Kazuto Tsukamoto, Staff Writer for the Asahi Shimbun, reports last week that archaeologists in Japan have unearthed the remains of a possible mid-seventh century imperial burial mound (kofun 古墳). The remains of the Koyamada Mound were discovered on the site of a school in the Askua area of Nara Prefecture, central Japan. Asuka was one of the early capitals of Japan before being relocated to Nara and then Kyoto (see our earlier feature, Asuka, Japan: An introduction to its megalithic sites).
“The mound is highly likely the first burial site of Emperor Jomei (593-641), described in the ‘Nihon Shoki’ (The Chronicles of Japan) as the place where his body rested until it was later transferred to another location,” said Fuminori Sugaya, the director of the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture. The researchers made the estimate based on the ruin’s location, size and unique construction method.
The excavation site contains what is believed to be part of a moat lined with boulders along one of its slopes, according to the researchers. The remnants of the moat measures 48 meters in length and 3.9 to 7 meters in width. While 40-centimeter quartz diorite boulders line the northern slope of the moat, the bottom is covered with stones measuring 15 cm to 30 cm. The southern slope is covered with flagstones made of two-step chlorite schist that are topped with special flagstones known as “Haibara,” a type of rhyolite stone, stacked in a staircase pattern. The total number of steps in some areas is 10.
Full Asahi Shimbun article here.
The Jonoyama Tomb excavation trench in Tainai, Niigata Prefecture where burial accessories including a bow and lacquered quiver from the 4th century CE were found.
Image credit The Mainichi Shinbun
The Mainich Shinbun reports that –
Burial accessories including a bow and lacquered quiver held as signs of influence from Japan’s Kinki [western] region have been unearthed from the fourth century Jonoyama tomb in Tainai, Niigata Prefecture — a sign that the authority of the Yamato government had extended to northern Niigata some 300 years earlier than originally thought.
The “Nihon Shoki” (Chronicles of Japan), a book of Japanese history completed in 720, states that the Nutari stockade, a symbol of the sphere of influence of the Yamato government, was built in 647 for the subjugation of the Emishi people from northern Japan. This is the oldest reference to the Yamato government’s influence along the Sea of Japan side of the country. The stockade is believed to have been erected in what is now northern Niigata city.
The latest discovery, however, suggests that influence of the Yamato government had spread north some 300 years earlier than thought. Previously, the furthest north such burial accessories had been found was in Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture, at the Kokubu Amazuka No. 1 and 2 tombs sites.
Full article here.
The Ishibutai Tumulus, Asuka. Image credit Wikimedia Commons