Piece of ancient glass for ancient aristocrats in Kyoto found

Archaeologists unearthed a fragment of a glass vessel from the 12th century the site of Heiankyo, Japan’s ancient capital, serving as a logistics base to distribute luxury gifts to aristocrats.

Part of the suiteki vessel (by Gangoji Institute for Research of Cultural Property)

According to the Gangoji Institute for Research of Cultural Property in Nara the piece of the suiteki vessel is believed to date to the late Heian Period (794-1185). The vessel was used to supply water to inkstones. The piece measures around 2 by 1.5 centimetres. Lead glass vessels were produced only in China during the Heian Period, and the fragment is believed to have been part of a suiteki imported from China. The find supports the thesis that site was probably used as a base to send suiteki and other high-end offerings from local regions to aristocrats in Kyoto. According to the researchers a glass vessel of the same kind was previously unearthed in another location and is currently owned by the Nara National Museum. In the area of the JR Kyoto Station archaeologists also managed to uncover earthenware  from across the Kinai region around Kyoto and also from Hyogo and Okayama prefectures, and the Tokai region. The finds are said to date from latter half of the 12th century and the 13th century.

Reconstruction of the vessel (by Gangoji Institute for Research of Cultural Property)

(after Asahi Shimbun & Gangoji Institute for Research of Cultural Property)

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