6th-century tomb in Nara likely step pyramid in shape


A large rectangular tomb in the village of Asuka in Nara Prefecture, may have been built in a rare pyramid shape, archaeologists say.

6th-century tomb in Nara likely step pyramid in shape
New excavations reveal that a sixth-century tomb in Japan apparently had 
a step-pyramid shape [Credit: Asuka Mura Public Office]

The Miyakozuka tomb is believed to have been built in the latter half of the sixth century. It was likely a terraced pyramid made of multiple stone layers, experts at the municipal education board and Kansai University’s Archaeological Research Institute said Wednesday.

The tomb may have been influenced by ancient tumuli built near the border between China and North Korea, given the similar structure, the experts said.

It is thought that Soga no Iname, a Yamato Dynasty leader who died in 570, was buried in the tomb. He is known to have close links with the people who migrated to Japan from China and the Korean Peninsula.

6th-century tomb in Nara likely step pyramid in shape
The Miyakozuka tomb has evidently been built like 
a step pyramid [Credit: The Yomiuri Shimbun]

After excavating the mound and areas surrounding Miyakozuka tomb, the group of archaeologists found stairlike architectural remains at three locations.

Four layers of stones were found at one of the three locations and one layer was discovered at each of the two other locations.

Based on the findings, the group said it believes that the tomb had a pyramidlike structure with seven or eight stone layers.

6th-century tomb in Nara likely step pyramid in shape

The mound is estimated to have been at least 4.5 meters high on the east side and 7 meters high on the west, with each side being over 40 meters in length.

Soga no Iname is known to have had strong ties to the ancient Korean kingdom of Koguryo because he is believed to have had two wives from that area.

The village of Asuka is known for many megalithic discoveries, including the Ishibutai tomb believed to have been built in the seventh century for Soga no Umako, a son of Iname who died in 626.

In a survey started in 1967 by the Kansai University research institute and others, clay pots and ironware were unearthed from the Miyakozuka tomb. But the mound’s size, structure and other details remained unknown.

Source: The Japan Times [August 14, 2014]