Possible resting place of Japanese emperor discovered

Japanese archaeologists believe to have found evidence of a burial mound in the Koyamada ruins, Nara province of Japan, dating from the mid-seventh century, that might be the final resting place of an emperor.

The site of excavations (by Asahi Shimbun)

Three years ago archaeologists located the structure by finding its outer moat. The presumed square burial mound alone is estimated to have measured 70 meters on each side, leading scholars to speculate that a very high-ranking individual, almost certainly an emperor, was buried there, but who exactly is uncertain. The vast site might have been built for Emperor Jomei (593-641), the father of two better-known emperors, Tenji (626-671) and Tenmu (?-686). Another candidate is Soga no Emishi (?-645), an important regional warlord who was ousted after a power struggle.

Scheme describing unearthed structures (by Asahi Shimbun)

Archaeologists discovered drainage ditch and areas where stones were removed. Later tombs, from the Kofun period, had an underground passage to the stone chamber where the deceased was laid to rest. The excavations revealed areas where stones were likely removed to construct the side walls of the passage that led to the underground stone chamber holding the deceased. The distance between those two areas indicate that the passage was 2.6 meters wide, which is larger than the one at the Ishibutai burial mound, also in Asuka. That mound, from the early seventh century, is believed to be where Emishi’s father, Umako, is buried.

(after Asahi Shimbun)

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