Remains of a mystery structure near ancient temple

Archaeologists excavating a site in Asuka, Nara Prefecture, Japan, discovered pillar holes, indicating presence of a building. The structure was located in the area west of Asukadera temple, one of the oldest temples in Japan.

Pillar holes found west of Asukadera temple (by Kazushige Kobayashi)

Researchers unearthed nine holes that were dug to hold pillars for a large building. The pillar holes are about 90 centimetres deep and roughly measure 1.2 meters on each side. They were unearthed at the south end of the site, about 120 meters southwest of where the Asukadera temple’s west gate stood. Archaeologists suspect that the structure, dating possibly to between late sixth century to early eighth century AD might have been a banquet hall where dignitaries from remote provinces were wined and dined when Asuka was the political centre of power. The findings indicate he first hard evidence of remodelling of the ancient square. The square set the stage for a number of major incidents during the Asuka Period (late sixth century to early eighth century), including the Taika Reforms and the Jinshin War of 672. According to the researchers, the site of the building is located on the edge of the square, so perhaps the building was a warehouse, considering the way the pillar holes are arranged and other factors.

(after Asahi Shimbun & Kazushige Kobayashi)

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