Full jug brings cheers from archaeologists
The Yomiuri Shimbun
An earthenware receptacle containing ancient fuhonsen coins, crystals and water has been excavated from the ruins of Fujiwarakyo–the nation’s first capital modeled after the Chinese capital system–in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture.
The find was made in the ruins of Fujiwara-no-miya palace, which stood in Fujiwarakyo, the capital from 694 to 710, The Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties announced Thursday.
The sueki earthenware receptacle, with a largely intact spout, is believed to have been buried at a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the construction of the palace, as stipulated in the “Nihon Shoki” (Chronicle of Japan).
The kettle-shaped receptacle is the oldest tool of its kind yet discovered in the ruins of the palace. Experts consider the find to be extremely important in studying religious rites of the nation’s early history, and the relationship between fuhonsen, the nation’s oldest copper coins, and Fujiwarakyo.
The earthenware receptacle, which measures 13.8 centimeters in height and 20.2 centimeters at its widest point, had been buried under a corridor linking the south and west gates of Daigokuden-in, the main building of the palace.
The simultaneous discovery of nine complete fuhonsen coins, which had blocked the container’s spout, is the most found in one location. Although the coins had rusted and bonded together, writing on them can be read by using x-ray computer-scanning technology.
A scan of the sueki pottery also revealed that there are nine crystals, shaped as six-sided prisms, and water inside. The crystals were between 2.1 and 3.8 centimeters long, and about one centimeter wide.
Four holes were found in the area where the pottery was buried. The holes are believed to have held stakes that indicated the area was sacred.
(Nov. 30, 2007)