In the news: Ancient helmet found in Gunma Pref.

A computer tomography image of an ancient helmet found in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture. A hoate cheek cover is seen on the left, while shikoro, the oart that protects the back of the head and neck, is seen at the bottom. Courtesy of Gunma Archaeological Research Foundation

A computer tomography image of an ancient helmet found in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture. A hoate cheek cover is seen on the left, while shikoro, the oart that protects the back of the head and neck, is seen at the bottom. Courtesy of Gunma Archaeological Research Foundation

MAEBASHI–The Gunma Prefectural Board of Education and Gunma Archaeological Research Foundation, investigating the bones of a man from the Kofun period (ca 300-ca710) dressed in armor found in the prefecture in November last year last year, have announced they have also found a helmet near his facial bones.

The presence of the iron helmet was confirmed beneath the man’s facial bones in a computer tomography scan, according to Toshiyuki Uchiyama, section chief of the excavation division of the Tochigi Miraizukuri Foundation’s Archaeological Center.

The man’s bones, covered by armor, were found at the Kanai-Higashiura archaeological site November last year in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture.

The helmet is thought to belong to the same man.

“It is highly possible that this is a helmet that was actually used during the Kofun oeriod, the first ever confirmed in the country,” Uchiyama said.

Although similar helmets have already been found in ancient tombs of the mid- to late-Kofun period, they were all made for ritual or ornamental purposes, such as burials.

Therefore, it will be the first helmet that was actually functionally used if it can be confirmed that it was worn.

A CT scan of the soil covering the skull showed the 13- cm high helmet, which is 25 cm by 20 cm, according to the organizations.

The shikoro, the part for covering the back of the head and neck, remains in the helmet. It also has hoate cheek protectors. Like the armor, which was found last year, the helmet is made with kozane metal scales.

“The helmet and the armor are highly likely to be a set of defense tools. The man wearing them might have been the most powerful person in the area,” Uchiyama added.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov 13, 2013

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