Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Queen Himiko

From Asahi:
"Researchers say they have found evidence of what may be an early third-century palace that could have been part of the Yamatai kingdom ruled by Himiko, the legendary queen.

The site is estimated to date from the late second century to early fourth century.

Researchers also uncovered evidence of fortified barriers stretching 40 meters.

It is the first time that such a sophisticated series of structures has been found from that period, said an official of the city education board.

"The site could have been the western end of an important place, such as a palace," said an expert.

In 1978, researchers with the Kashihara Archaeological Institute in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, discovered evidence of what appeared to have been a shrine measuring 5 meters by 5 meters, along with a 15-meter-long fortified barrier.

Excavations from February by Sakurai city turned up three holes for pillars measuring about 15 centimeters in diameter about 5 meters east of the shrine-like building, as well as a 25-meter barrier which presumably consisted of wooden stakes.

The evidence suggests a building of at least 6 meters in length stood from north to south.

An examination of past discoveries suggests that pillar holes found 10 meters to the west of the shrine-like building may have been part of a separate structure that measured more than 2 meters by 5 meters.

Hironobu Ishino, an archaeologist and director of the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Archaeology, said it may have been the site of a palace for Himiko.

"It is absolutely stunning to find three buildings dating from as early as the third century that were lined up straight," he said. "It is such a beautiful layout. I wonder if it reflects the influence of Chinese culture.

"If the site is really from the ancient Yamatai kingdom, then the remains might have been a palace of Himiko's."

Kaoru Terasawa, an official at the Kashihara Archaeological Institute, agrees the site is very significant.

"The fact that it was surrounded by a complex array of barriers would mean the place was very special," he said. "The pillar holes found so far are too small for a central building, but I hope the extended excavation to the eastern area will turn up evidence of a larger building."

Some experts say the Makimuku ruins, which lie 1.5 kilometers north to south and 2 km east to west, was the burial mound for Himiko, who is said to have died in 248."

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