Staff writer

OSAKA — A leading Irish archaeologist has said that greater archaeological interchange between Ireland and Japan will help boost research presently being carried out in both countries on ancient burial sites

Professor George Eogan, 66, director of the Knowth Archaeological Research Project based in the Boyne Valley in northeast Ireland, has been conducting research at the World Heritage Site there, in a landscape dominated by prehistoric passage tombs.

According to Eogan, who also specializes in the history of the Bronze Age in western Europe, passage tombs, some of which are as large as 100 meters in diameter, are generally built with a parallel side-passage roofed by stones that leads into the burial chamber.

“It is interesting that, despite their geographic distance and huge time difference, rich innovative cultures emerged in peripheral areas, Ireland off the European continent on one hand and Japan off the Asian continent on the other. Irish passage tombs built over 5,000 years ago in the New Stone Age, and Japanese “kofun” tombs from the late third century show that creative and exciting societies functioned and flourished in both areas,” he said in a recent interview here.

Eogan said that when a team of Japanese archaeologists visited Ireland in 1979 to research one of the tombs, they found new information with regard to the structure of the tomb and the megalithic art on the stones of the tomb.

Eogan added that although the cultural relationship between Ireland and Japan is growing, he wants to see stronger ties in the field of archaeology. Even when an archaeological site is known to archaeologists, it is useful to have a different cultural perspective on it, he said.

Eogan was here at the invitation of Hiroshi Sude, professor of archaeology at Osaka University. This, his second trip to Japan, was partly funded by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs.

Apart from the obvious archaeological interest of the trip, Eogan was also here to obtain information on the advanced technology used in Japanese archaeological research.

“Not only the technological aspect (is interesting), but we can also learn about excavation techniques at large sites, and how excavation is organized, controlled and recorded,” he said.

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