Possible base of 8th century pagoda found

Remains of a square foundation, found in Higashi-Yuge, Yao in Osaka Prefecture, Japan, are believed to be the remains of a temple built by a Buddhist temple in 8th century AD.

Overview of the site (by Yao education board)

The find might be the first archaeological evidence proving the existence of Yugeji temple, which is said to have been built here in the Nara Period (710-784) by Dokyo, a Buddhist monk. Dokyo rose in power after winning the favour of Empress Shotoku, one of the few female rulers in Japan’s history. Her reign started in 764 and ended with her death in 770. Dokyo fell from power after she died, and he was relegated to what is now Tochigi Prefecture. The year of his birth is not known, but records show he died in 772.

Tuff stones believed to have been used to decorate the foundation (by Toru Furusho)

The researchers believe to have found the square foundation of the Yugeji temple, measuring about 20 meters by 20 meters. The foundation was found in stratum dating back to the latter half of the 8th century, and their size is believed to indicate that a relatively large pagoda stood on top. Only a few historical documents mention the structure, such as “Shoku Nihongi“, an official history book on the Nara Period (710-794 AD) published by authorities during the Heian Period (794-1185 AD),

Part of the pagoda foundation about 70 centimetres high (by Toru Furusho)

According to the researchers, the square foundation with sides 20 meters long could have possibly held a 60-meter class, seven-story pagoda. A copper fragment believed to have come from a large “sorin” finial of the pagoda was also found nearby. The researchers said the entire piece would have been bowl-shaped with a 90-centimeter diameter.

(after Asahi Shimbun, Toru Furusho & Yao education board)

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