|Remains of a State-like Society in Ancient
Lying in southern part of the Yoshinogari hills the middle part of present-day Saga Prefecture the Yoshinogari remains date from the Yayoi period, which lasted from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD. Japan first appeared in the historical records of the world with a reference to the country of Yamatai* in a Chinese chronicle from the Wei dynasty (AD 220-265). The location of Yamatai has been disputed for hundreds of years among historians. At Yoshinogari, the remains have captured the imagination of the many people who add to the annual throng of visitors: the scale, the layout, and other findings at the site suggest that Yoshinogari might as well be the remains of Yamatai.
The main features at Yoshinogari are the outer moat that surrounds the roughly 400,000-square meter (478,360-square yard) site, and, inside this, two inner moats which girdle two clusters of residences, storehouses, towers, and other structures. Moreover, gorgeous clothing and ornaments have been unearthed from a 2000-year-old burial mound at the northern most end of the site, at what is believed to have been a tomb of one of the rulers of the time. From the scale of the site, its layout, and the types of artifacts found there, Yoshinogari seems to have been more than a simple ancient village. Some say that the evidence of the remains proves that the society of the time had already achieved a state structure.
* Yamatai was the name of the realm of Queen Himiko who created a state in the first half of the 3rd Century by forming alliances while conquering political oppositions.
Photos: (top) An overview of Yoshinogari Ruins; (middle) a restored storehouse (left) and dwelling house (Saga Prefecture).
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