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Thursday, 6th October 2016
In General Japan News,

New research offers greater insight into ancient Japan

Ancient Japanese society may have been much more cosmopolitan than had previously been thought, according to archaeologists.

The revelation was made yesterday (October 5th) and is based on new evidence that has come to light of a Persian official going about his duties in what was the capital, Nara, more than 1,000 years ago.

While it was widely accepted that the countries known today as Japan and Iran had direct trade links as far back as the 7th century, these connections have now been found to go back further.

Infrared imaging technology has been used on a piece of wood that was originally discovered on the 1960s and found characters that were previously unreadable.

Wood was often used as a writing surface prior to paper and the words describe a Persian official living and working in Japan.

Akihiro Watanabe, a researcher at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, said the discovery suggested the official was employed at a government training academy.

As ancient Iran was known as a centre of mathematical expertise, the worker may have been teaching the subject.

Mr Watanabe added: “Although earlier studies have suggested there were exchanges with Persia as early as the 7th century, this is the first time a person as far away as Persia was known to have worked in Japan [during the period].

“And this suggests Nara was a cosmopolitan city where foreigners were treated equally.”

Nara acted as the capital of Japan between 710AD and 784AD, before it was transferred to Kyoto and then on to Tokyo, where it remains today.

This latest discovery is not the only interesting archaeological find unearthed in Japan recently, as only last month, Roman coins were dug up at the site of an old castle in Okinawa.

It was the first time that coins from the empire had ever been discovered in Japan – a long way from the mint in Rome.

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