Discovery of Oldest Bronze Relics Molds at Saga Ruins in Japan

An ancient archaeological site in the western prefecture of Saga has yielded a remarkable find – relics including stone casting molds for bronze artifacts, potentially the oldest of their kind in Japan, the prefectural government announced on Monday.

The discovery, made at the Yoshinogari ruins between September and October, included a mold that could date back to around 200 BC. This follows the April finding of a stone coffin tomb believed to belong to a person of high status in the same area of the site.

The enigmatic coffin has prompted speculation about the identity of the individual and has reignited a long-standing dispute over the location of the ancient Yamatai kingdom in Japan.

In June, it was announced that no human bones or burial accessories were found that could provide clues about the individual’s identity or the period of burial.

During the latest excavation in the “mystery area,” previously unexplored due to the presence of a shrine, three important items were found – casting molds made of serpentinite and quartz-porphyry, and a clay vessel used as a container for molten metal, all dating back to the Yayoi period of Japanese history.

The molds, possibly used for casting swords and spears, were found in close proximity to the discovered stone coffin, further intriguing archaeologists and historians.

An official from the prefecture called the discovery “extremely significant” in understanding the distinct features of the ruins and the changes that have taken place over time.

Archaeologist Chuhei Takashima, who specializes in the Yoshinogari ruins, explained that serpentinite preceded quartz-porphyry as a stone mold in general and suggested that the technology could have been derived from the Korean Peninsula.

Takashima also noted that these discoveries add further meaning to Yoshinogari, a site that was a manufacturing hub for bronze artifacts in Japan, introducing the most advanced technology of its time.

Designated as a national historic site in 1991, the ruins are currently open to the public as the Yoshinogari Historical Park, offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore Japan’s ancient history.

This remarkable discovery sheds new light on Japan’s ancient past and has the potential to reshape our understanding of this significant period in history.



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