OSAKA — Five bronze mirrors were found in a tumulus in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, reinforcing the theory that the ancient kingdom of Yamatai was in the Kinki region, instead of in northern Kyushu.
The Takatsuki Municipal Board of Education, which announced the finds August 1, said there is a possibility that the mirrors were given to someone who served the kingdom. The mirrors were found in a small tumulus at Amagoshono-machi, Takatsuki, which commands a view of a plain to the south where the Ama ruins from the Tumulus Period (late third century to seventh century) are located. This area is along the Yodo River, a vital ancient system for water traffic that empties into the Seto Inland Sea.
One of the mirrors bears the name of the third year of Qinglong, an era name from China’s Wei dynasty (220-265). Qinglong 3 is the year 235. This mirror has a square pattern around a knob on its back, other patterns and 39 letters. Wei chronicles show that four years before 235, Queen Himiko of the Yamatai kingdom sent a mission to the Wei dynasty.
The mirror is the second of its kind to be found, following one unearthed in the Ota Minami No. 5 tumulus dating from the last half of fourth century. The site is on the border of Yasaka and Mineyama in Kyoto Prefecture.
From the Amagoshono-machi mound, two mirrors whose edges are triangular were also found.
The board of education theorizes that the person buried in the mound was from the area where the Ama ruins are located and was a bureaucrat who controlled water traffic and had something to do with Yamatai diplomacy. Takaichi Kondo, professor of archaeology at Yamaguchi University, said the finds are surprising. The tomb was dug at a relatively high place and the body was placed with the head facing east, he pointed out.
“The mirror of the third year of Qinglong was sandwiched by the mirrors with triangular edges. And they were wrapped with cloth. This shows the buried person may have been highly attached to the Qinglong mirror because it was given by the Wei dynasty. Another possible theory is that the mirror was obtained by a member of the mission sent by Queen Himiko to the Wei dynasty,” he said.
Koichi Mori, professor of archaeology of Doshisha University, said one should not hastily conclude that the Qinglong mirror was obtained from the Wei dynasty when Himiko was ruling. “Although I have not yet seen the mirror, the same type of mirror found in the Ota Minami No. 5 tumulus is of bad quality in terms of copper and casting and it is very hard to believe it was made in China. It would be against reason to study the mirror with interest focused only on its possible relationship with Queen Himiko.”
For people interested, a shuttle bus will be run in the afternoon August 2 and August 3 from the southern entrance of JR Takatsuki Station to the tumulus, where an explanation session will be held from 1 to 4 p.m.