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Street grid unearthed at site of mysterious ancient Japanese capital


Archaeologists said they may have unravelled one of the many mysteries surrounding Kunikyo, the capital of Japan from 740 to 744.

Street grid unearthed at site of mysterious ancient Japanese capital
A road crossing a side ditch at right angles in Kizugawa, Kyoto Prefecture, resembles the grid pattern
 found in ancient capitals of Japan [Credit: Makoto Ito]
The Kyoto Prefecture Research Center for Archaeological Properties said on Jan. 26 that it has found evidence of “jobo” grid pattern streets for the first time at the Okadakuni ruins here.

Kunikyo was built on the orders of Emperor Shomu (701-756).

“(The latest findings) could provide clues to the details of Kunikyo, although there still remain many mysteries about the city,” a center official said.

The discovery included a street running north to south that measures 6.7 meters wide and 41 meters long, crossed at a right angle by a 7-meter-wide, 21-meter-long road.

Traces of buildings arranged in an orderly fashion along one of the roads were also found.

The jobo structure was uncovered at a planned construction site of a bypass for National Road No. 163. The area is 5 kilometers southwest of the part of Kunikyo where ruins of Daigokuden hall and other buildings had previously been found.

The Japanese capital was relocated from Heijokyo to Kunikyo, and then to Naniwanomiya in Osaka Prefecture.

The center said the recently uncovered roads are similar to those found in jobo structures uncovered in the ancient cities of Heijokyo and Heiankyo, and that pillars for buildings appear to have been used only briefly at the site.

“Government offices or other facilities were likely removed in a short time, meaning the ruins are highly likely part of Kunikyo,” the center official said.

Author: Makoto Ito | Source: The Asahi Shimbun [February 15, 2017]
TANN

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