Tile kin discovered at ancient temple grounds

A kiln used to bake roof tiles of Toshodaiji temple more than 1000 years ago was discovered at Toshodaiji temple complex, Nara prefecture, Japan.

Site of the kiln (by Kazushige Kobayashi)

Toshodaiji was founded in 759 by Ganjin (688-763), a high-ranking monk from China’s Tang Dynasty, as a place to impart Buddhist disciplines and teachings. The kiln measures measuring 4.2 meters by up to 2.2 meters, were excavated from under the “mieido” building north of the centre of the temple. The discovery offers new insight on the craftsmanship that went into creating the structures of the complex. According to researchers of Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, the kiln was likely used for the roof tiles of the “kondo” main hall and other structures in the temple complex between the late Nara Period (710-784) and early Heian Period (794-1185). According to Michio Maezono, the tile kiln was likely set up on the temple grounds during the final stage of construction of the kondo, east pagoda and other buildings. As Toshodaiji is not a large publicly commissioned temple, so those facilities could have been erected gradually over dozens of years.

Excavations at the Toshodaiji temple (by Kazushige Kobayashi)

(after Kazushige Kobayashi & Asahi Shimbun)

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