Field trip – visit a megalithic dolmen site

Kuboizumi-maruyama dolmens, Kyushu

What is a dolmen?

“A dolmen, generally speaking, consists of an arrangement of stones, few or many in number, supporting one or more stones in such a way as to inclose a cavity beneath. These supporting stones may form the four walls of a chamber, which may or may not be covered by a mound of earth. This chamber may or may not communicate outwardly by a long, narrow gallery {allée couverte). The mound may or may not have one or more rows of stones encircling it. And, finally, the stone structure may be on top of a mound of earth, instead of beneath it!

The simplest form of dolmen, if indeed it can be compared to the more elaborate structures bearing the same name, consists of several standing stones supporting one or more stones which rest upon them horizontally. If the roofing-stones rest with one end upon the ground, then it is called a demi-dolmen. A holed dolmen has one of the supporting stones (which generally forms one side of a square chamber) perforated. The demi-dolmens are not sufficiently specialized to establish any line of distribution. The holed dolmens are found in France and in India, and their curious resemblance has led many to believe in their common origin.”

Edward S. Morse, Dolmens of Japan (Popular Science Monthly Volume 16 March 1880

Suggested field trip: Kuboizumi-maruyama dolmen complex, Kyushu

The Kuboizumi-Maruyama Historic Sites are the complex of 118 dolmens of the late Jomon period to the early Yayoi period (about 10,000 years ago), and 12 kofuns (chieftain’s tomb) of the 5th to the 6th Centuries A.D. Those remains had originally been located in Kawakubo, Kuboizumi-cho, Saga City, but were relocated to Kinryu Park and then reconstructed due to the construction work of Nagasaki Expressway. The kofuns have either the vertical stone chamber (tate-ana) or the horizontal stone chamber (yoko-ana). The largest vertical stone chamber is 0.73m wide, 1.89m deep, and 0.76m tall. A lot of articles such as iron swords, iron spear, knives, yariganna (spear-like shaped plainer), and magatama (curved beads) were excavated from the stone burial chambers. We can learn a lot about the changes in kofun building from the 5th to the 6th Centuries from these excavated articles. Maruyama Historic Site was designated as a prefectural Important Cultural Property in 1984.
Address: Kinryu, Kinryu-machi, Saga, Saga Prefecture, 849-090


Further reading:

The Dolmens of Japan & Their Builders, by William Gowland (Nabu Press, March 2010)

2 responses to “Field trip – visit a megalithic dolmen site

  1. Dolmens and other megaliths (pyramids, stone circles, barrows and others) is a fortress.
    In dolmens children were hiding from enemies. Inside was the wedge.

  2. Pingback: 12,000 – 2,000 Years Ago – Indigenous-Scandinavians (Nordic) | Damien Marie AtHope

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