Ancient armour found in tomb during roadworks

Construction workers paving a farm road in Shibushi, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, unearthed a 1500-year-old tomb containing a large stone coffin, human remains and impressive armour in remarkable condition.

Armour found in the tomb (by Shibushi City Education Board)

The tomb is believed to belong to a local chieftain. The armour, known as cuirass, in a type of breastplate called  “tanko”, is believed to have been a gift from the Yamato imperial court in current Nara Prefecture in appreciation of the leader’s cooperation. The armour measures 35 cm by 40 cm. Researchers of Kagoshima University Museum believe that the tomb was likely built for a powerful leader in the local region who was directly connected with the Yamato imperial court.  The grave itself dates back to the Kofun Period (late 3rd to 7th centuries), is one of the largest tunnel-tombs in the Osumi region.

The structure starts with a vertical shaft that measures 2.6 metres in length and 1.8 metres in width. The burial chamber itself is 2.6 metres long, 1.9 meters wide and 90 centimetres high. Researchers have also studied the skeletal remains, which area said to belong to a 170-centimeter-tall adult male. Within the tomb, a sword has been discovered, placed in a stone coffin made of pumice, with scabbard and 20 other items, including an iron arrowhead, spear and iron axe. The researchers state that the tomb features more grave accessories than any other tunnel-tombs in the region.

(after Shibushi City Education Board & Asahi Shimbun)

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