2300-years-old carpenter’s tool unearthed

Archaeologists discovered a well preserved ancient carpenter’s tool – an iron “yariganna” cutting chisel, at the Yokaichijikata ruins in Komatsu, Ishikawa province, Japan. The tool is believed to be 2300 years old.

The carpenter’s tool (by Hideki Inoue)

At the Yokaichijikata ruins, a number of weapons and wooden items, including dishes, have also been unearthed previously, but the recently found carving tool sheds light on the activities of a carpenter over two millennia ago. The iron cutting head attached to a haft, is believed to be from about 2300 years ago, the first half of the middle of the Yayoi Pottery Culture period (300BC-300AD). The entire length of the yariganna is 16.3 centimetres. Part of the 5.1-cm iron bar was tucked into the haft, taped and fixed with threads and tape-shaped Japanese cherry tree bark. The haft has an art carving, an aslant lattice pattern, and is formed like a baseball bat grip on its handle. The blade is about 2 millimetres thick. The blade is likely to have been transported from overseas because it is said that iron started being produced in Japan in the latter half of the mid Yayoi Pottery Culture period. According to the researchers, the tool, used to smooth surfaces of wooden items, is the oldest of all yariganna tools with a haft that have been found in a pristine condition in Japan. It is believed that temples and shrines of the Asuka Period (592-710), including Horyuji temple, were constructed with yariganna that had been major tools for carpenters specializing in Shinto and Buddhism architectural structures.

(after Hideoki Inoue & Asahi Shimbun)

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