In the news: Silk road Islamic ceramic fragments excavated from Nara’s Saidaiji site are oldest finds in Japan

Fragments of Islamic ceramicware excavated from the former site of Saidaiji temple in Nara (The Yomirui Shimbun)

Fragments of Islamic ceramicware excavated from the former site of Saidaiji temple in Nara (The Yomiuri Shimbun)

Ceramics found in Nara tell of Asia’s trade history

Fragments of Islamic ceramicware excavated from the former site of Saidaiji temple in Nara

NARA–Nineteen fragments of Islamic ceramicware made in western Asia have been excavated at the former site of Saidaiji temple in Nara, the Nara Municipal Board of Education announced Friday, representing the oldest find of its kind in the nation and providing new clues about the history of cultural exchange in Asia.

The fragments from the base and body of the jar, which is estimated to date back to the late eighth century, were discovered along with a wooden strip on which the Chinese characters for “Jingokeiun Ninen,” referring to the era and year corresponding to 768, are written in Chinese ink.

The Islamic ceramic fragments are the oldest of their kind discovered in the nation. It also is a rare find internationally, in that it is possible to identify the era in which the jar was made.

The jar is believed to have been carried to Japan from western Asia by the maritime silk road route via China.

An official of the municipal board of education said, “The discovery is valuable because it tells us about the history of maritime traffic and cultural exchange in Asia.”

The fragments were excavated from a ditch at the former site of Saidaiji temple, in the western area of the remains of Heijokyo palace.

(Jul. 4, 2009) The Yomiuri Shimbun

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