Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

High-tech inspired insights into Japan's ancient 'Kofun' burial mounds

Date:
June 19, 2013
Source:
Okayama University
Summary:
Fusion of traditional archaeology with cutting edge information technology has been used to uncover the mysteries of an ancient civilizations.

Detail of a mirror frame showing a deity and beast visualized from data of 3D scans.
Credit: Image courtesy of Okayama University

Professor Izumi Niiro is an archaeologist using powerful geographic information systems technology to accurately survey Japanese burial mounts or 'Kofun' built between the third to seventh centuries.

"I first became aware of geographic information systems during a sabbatical at Southampton University in 1991," explains Professor Niiro. "I decided to experiment with this technology for archaeological surveying when I returned to Japan. It enables me to visualize and analyze many types of geographical information such as topographic details of maps."

Initially Professor Niiro started by using IDRISI from Clark University. "These days I use GRASS (Geographic Resources Analysis Support System) open source system software," says Professor Niiro. "The data analysis was initially done using the Perl programming language, but these days I use Python." Professor Niiro confides that there are very few archaeologists in Japan, if any, who produce their own software programs to analyze geographic information.

Findings by Professor Niiro include visualization of a bronze mirror from the early Kofun Period, third century. "I wrote my own software to visualize the surface of the mirror based on 3D scan information," explains Professor Niiro. "Our results clearly show a triangular-rimmed mirror that is decorated with deities and beasts."

Japan has many Kofun sites. Fig. 3 shows the distribution of typical 'key-holed' burial mounds in Okayama Prefecture. The largest site in Okayama and the fourth largest in Japan is the Tsukuriyama Kofun -- the burial mound of the king of the 'Kibi' completed in the fifth century. The tomb consists of the main Tsukuriyama burial mound and six smaller structures to the south. The dimensions of the Tsukuriyama Kofun are: length-350m, key-hole diameter-200m, height-31 m, and front length-215m. "Our analysis shows that it was built using very precise procedures using Chinese 'shaku' units of length," says Professor Niiro. "One shaku is 232 mm."

Recently, Professor Niiro is extending his research activities to the effect of disasters on culture and civilization. "Volcano eruptions have had tremendous effects on the environment and human culture," says Professor Niiro. "In particular the sixth century saw unprecedented changes in the environment. In Japan, the Emperor of the time ordered the storage of rice in northern Kyushu to assist people in Korea who were affected by disasters precipitated by global climate changes. Similar disastrous effects of climate changes occurred in Ireland. The recent massive earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku has led to the rise in 'disaster archaeology'. The Kofun Period ended in 600 AD probably due to climate change. This led to the introduction of Buddhism in Japan. Archeologists still have a lot to do. "


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Okayama University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Okayama University. "High-tech inspired insights into Japan's ancient 'Kofun' burial mounds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130619161548.htm>.
Okayama University. (2013, June 19). High-tech inspired insights into Japan's ancient 'Kofun' burial mounds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130619161548.htm
Okayama University. "High-tech inspired insights into Japan's ancient 'Kofun' burial mounds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130619161548.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A couple found love letters from World War I in their attic. They were able to deliver them to relatives of the writer of those letters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

AFP (Apr. 16, 2014) Explicit Chinese art works dating back centuries go on display in Hong Kong, revealing China's ancient relationship with sex. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
French Historians Fight to Save Iconic La Samaritaine Buildings

French Historians Fight to Save Iconic La Samaritaine Buildings

AFP (Apr. 15, 2014) Parisians and local historians are fighting to save one of the French capital's iconic buildings, the La Samaritaine department store. Duration: 01:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bee Fossils Provide Insight Into Ice Age Environment

Bee Fossils Provide Insight Into Ice Age Environment

Newsy (Apr. 12, 2014) Archeologists have found many fossils in the La Brea Tar Pits, including those of saber-tooth tigers and mammoths. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins