Japanese woven basket from 2nd century AD solves speculations over mysterious artefact

Archaeologists discovered the first preserved finely woven basket complete with a square wooden footed stand at the Seta site, Kashihara, Nara prefecture of Japan, dating to the late Yayoi Pottery Culture period (300 BC – 300 AD).

Excavated basket and a model of the base held by a researcher (by Ryo Kato)

The discovery is significant, because it potentially can end speculations over the purpose of a box-like object that had been excavated around Japan at historic sites of the Yayoi Pottery Culture period and Kofun period (250-538 AD). The object is now understood as a stand used to prevent the basket from directly touching the soil. The artefact has previously been speculated to have been used as an aquascope for catching fish or as a funnel. Researchers state that the basket, measuring approx. 30 cm diameter, is finely woven with consistent gaps of about 0.3 millimetres between strands and was used to transport or store something precious.

Reconstruction of a basket (by Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties)

The stand itself is made of wood from the castanopsis cuspidata, a species of chinquapin tree. Four wood strips in a trapezoid shape, measuring 9 centimetres at the top of the base, 11 cm at the bottom and 3.5 cm in height, are assembled with plant ties to form the object, which is attached to the basket with strings made of a plant material.

(after Asahi Shimbun, Ryo Kato & Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties)

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