Featured in today’s and yesterday’s news reports, is the new discovery of the ruins of a possible palace structure at Makimuku, Sakurai, Nara Prefecture. The finding bolsters the theory that the earlier discovered nearby Hashihaka keyhole-shaped tomb may be Queen Himiko’s….see Mainichi report below for details. The Daily Yomiuri also carries the same news (3rd-century structure unearthed in Nara Pref. (Nov 12)) and has the additional information that “Earthenware items produced in various regions from Kanto to Kyushu have been unearthed there” as well as “Each pillar is about 32 centimeters in diameter. It is likely that the structure had an elevated floor.” Japan Times also covers the news – see Japan Times: Dig in Nara, not Kyushu, yields palatial ruins possibly of Himiko.
SAKURAI, Nara — The remains of a major structure from the third century — corresponding with the period in which the ancient Japanese queen Himiko lived — has been unearthed at the Makimuku ruins here, the Sakurai Municipal Board of Education has announced.
The Makimuku ruins are believed to be the most likely location of the Yamataikoku kingdom that is associated with Himiko. Education board officials said that holes for pillars, extended 19.2 meters from north to south and 6.2 meters from east to west in an organized fashion, making it one of the largest buildings from the period.
The newly discovered structure was designed to be symmetrical along a line running from east to west, lining up with three structures and a barrier line that were confirmed during past digs, and there is a possibility it was the palace of Himiko. The find is likely to advance the theory that Himiko’s realm was in the Yamato Province in the present-day Kinki region.
Hironobu Ishino, head of the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Archeology, said the find was a strong basis for concluding that the Yamataikoku kingdom was located at the site of the Makimuku ruins.
“The building is of a size unparalleled for the same period. It is too big for a dwelling,” he said, adding that it probably corresponded to the “palace” of Himiko mentioned in ancient Chinese historical records.
In 1978 a barrier and remains of a building were found, and starting from the point of these discoveries, and expanded survey was launched in February this year. The remains of a large building were later found in an eastern part of the site.
The postholes at the newly discovered site were about 30 centimeters in diameter and were spaced at 4.8-meter intervals from north to south and were 3.1 meters apart from east to west. There were also small holes between the postholes running from east to west that were used to support floorboards.
It is believed that the structure had a total floor space of about 238 square meters, about 1.5 times bigger that the main shrine at the Yoshinogari archeological site in Saga Prefecture, thought to be one of the biggest moat-surrounded settlements during the Yayoi Period.
No earlier sites in which structures have been placed in a symmetrical east-west layout have been uncovered. The features of the structure are similar to those of palaces of the Asuka period (around the seventh century), and there is a high possibility that it was part of the center of a kingdom.
Queen Himiko is believed to have died around 248.
(Mainichi Japan) November 11, 2009