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Humanitarian sciences in Siberia

2015 year, number 2


I.S. Gnezdilova
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of SB RAS, 17 Akademician Lavrentiev Av., Novosibirsk, 630090
Keywords: Japan, Kofun period, mounds, classification, typology, constructions, archaeology, natural methods


The Kofun period in Japan dates from the III to the VII centuries. Construction of the so called keyhole-shaped burial mounds is considered a characteristic feature of this historic period. The articles objective is to trace the stages in history of archeological research of the Kofun mounds; to characterize the current state of research in this field; to identify main areas of investigations at different stages; and to demonstrate the peculiarities of archaeological studies in Japan. The article is based on the analysis of archaeological and historiographic research conducted by the Japanese and Russian scholars. Specifics of these studies varied depending on the historical period. At the initial stage the research was based mostly on the written sources. Of particular interest were the antiquities found in the castles. Later on archeological methods were used to study burial mounds. The first excavations were carried out by foreign researchers. However since the late XIX century the archaeological work had been conducted by Japanese archaeologists who paid special attention to classification, systematization, and comparative analysis of the burial items. Another topic of special interest to Japanese archaeology was determining the chronology of the first keyhole-shaped burial mounds. Along with studying the burial items, external and internal structure of mounds researchers paid special attention to the problem of Haniwa - the time and causes of its origin, shape and location on mounds. Thus far, studies of this historical period have resulted in accumulation of a great amount of factual materials; burial items have been classified. Recently active archaeological excavations have been supplemented by studies on the interpretation of the materials; methods of other scientific disciplines have been applied. As for Japanese studies in Russia, the Kofun period remains understudies, especially in the field of archaeology.