Saturday, June 6, 2009

Queen Himiko

From the Asahi Shimbun:
An ancient tomb, constructed in traditional keyhole style denoting someone of very high rank, may well be the final resting place of Himiko, the legendary third-century queen of the Yamatai kingdom, say archaeologists who relied on radiocarbon dating for their finding.

Artifacts from near the earthen mound in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, were examined by researchers attached to the National Museum of Japanese History (Rekihaku) in Sakura, Chiba Prefecture.

Using radiocarbon dating, they studied clay fragments from the rim of the mound and found that they were made between 240 and 260. Himiko, according to Chinese records, died around 250.

They determined that the tomb very likely could have been built for Himiko.

The discovery will also likely ignite further debate on the location of the Yamatai kingdom, which some say was in Kyushu and others believe was centered around Nara, an ancient capital.

From the Telegraph:
Researchers from the National Museum of Japanese History presented a paper to the 75th annual meeting of the Japanese Archaeological Association on Sunday, claiming that evidence points to a burial mound in the town of Sakurai, near the ancient capital of Nara in central Japan, as the tomb of Queen Himiko.

Archaeologists had previously claimed that the tomb, built in the traditional keyhole-shape design, was built in the fourth century and therefore too modern for Queen Himiko.

But a team led by Professor Hideki Harunari has discovered new clay artefacts close to the site, which radiocarbon dating indicates were made between 240AD and 260AD. According to records from the Chinese court, with which the Yamatai kingdom had links, Queen Himiko died around 250 AD.

"She is a very important part of Japanese history as she was the first queen, ruled for many years - although we do not know exactly how long - and has gone down in history as a very popular ruler," said Professor Harunari.

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