Ancient barbarians found in northern Japan

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by bousozoku, Jun 2, 2004.

  1. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    AOMORI-In ancient times, northern Honshu and southern Hokkaido were considered untamed lands inhabited by mysterious barbarians who refused to be ruled by Japanese emperors.

    Much remains a mystery about the northern ``Emishi'' people, but a recent excavation in Aomori Prefecture sheds some light on the tribes that had a long history of conflict.

    Researchers have dug up an unprecedented number of iron arrowheads, as well as human remains-one with its hands bound-from the Hayashinomae ruins near Hachinohe. The discovery suggests a fierce war was fought at the settlement site in the 10th or 11th century.

    The findings also support the theory that the Emishi were forced to flee the plains and build fortress-type settlements high up in the mountains to foil enemy attacks.

    ``The discovery is the first of its kind that proves there was an ancient society forced to go into fortified settlements because it was impossible to lead a normal life completely defenseless,'' said Masaki Kudo, curator of the Tohoku History Museum.

    The Emishi tribes defied the emperors during the late Nara (710-784) and Heian (794-1185) periods, but military pressure forced them to move farther north.

    The Hayashinomae dig revealed the possibility that the Emishi tribes ended up battling each other in a long civil war in the Tohoku region.

    The excavation of Hayashinomae was conducted by the Aomori Prefectural Archeological Artifacts Research Center. The research took four years and finished in 2003.

    What made the Hayashinomae discovery so unique was the number of iron arrowheads-about 200-spread out over a wide area.

    Arrowheads were usually recovered and recycled after battles. But the ones at the site appeared to have been left where they fell, indicating that the battle was too fierce to allow time for collection-or that there were not enough survivors to do the job.

    Ten human remains were also found, but none had received a proper burial.

    At one area in the site, a whole skeleton, with its hands and feet bound, was discovered. Three skulls and skeletons with missing body parts were also found.

    The findings led the researchers to conclude that the site was once a settlement that had to be abandoned after exceptionally heavy warfare.

    The Hayashinomae ruins are located atop a jutting cliff near the coastline about 5 kilometers northwest of central Hachinohe.

    The research team also recovered 130 dugout housing units in the cliff. The top of the cliff housed the tribal leader's housing compound, featuring an outer moat that stretched 30 meters east-west and 70 meters north-south.

    Since the 1990s, researchers have found similar settlements built high on the mountains and protected by moats or other barriers in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, and southern Hokkaido.

    The Emishi tribes had settled on the northern plains. But for a 150-year period in the 10th and 11th centuries, they probably moved to the mountains. Not a single ``general'' settlement in the plains has been discovered for that 150-year period.

    Some specialists believe the mountain habitats were religious facilities.

    But the artifacts from Hayashinomae have given ammunition to those who believe the mountain accommodations were fortified settlements used to repulse enemies.

    During the eighth and ninth centuries, the emperors were making major attempts to subjugate the Emishi and gain control over the Tohoku region, which was rich in horses and gold.

    However, the military advances reached a standstill around the area that is now Morioka.

    Emperors switched tactics in the 10th century, demanding tributes instead of control of the region.

    Conventional theory has been that peace prevailed in the Tohoku region after the new policy was implemented until the War of Zenkunen (1051-1062) started in the prefectures of Akita and Iwate.

    But fortified settlements were cropping up in the latter 10th century, after the imperial policy change came into effect, indicating that battles were being waged in the mountains. But the Emishi's enemies at that time were probably not the emperor's warriors. Instead, the tribes likely fought each other.

    ``There must have been internal tribal disputes erupting among the various Emishi tribes fighting over pipelines with the emperor over food, arms and riches gained through trade,'' said Kudo, the curator of the Tohoku History Museum. ``It was a time when the emperor tried to control the region by manipulating the Emishi against each other.''

    Kudo said a large battle among the Emishi at Hayashinomae may have erupted in the early 11th century.

    Although the Hayashinomae site provided some insight into the mysterious ``barbarians'' of the north, the excavation area is no more. It fell victim to modern warriors-the ``road tribe'' of the political world.

    The site had to make way for a prefectural road that was completed in December 2003.(IHT/Asahi: May 19,2004) (05/19)
  2. Bedawyn macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    *gazes adoringly at MacRumors*

    I love being able to find Mac news and archaeology at the same site. :)
  3. wdlove macrumors P6


    Oct 20, 2002
    Very interesting find. Do they have any photographs of what these people might have looked like? Is there a link for this?
  4. bousozoku thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    Unfortunately, they did not have any photos. I'm still looking for other information. I'll be checking various Japanese language articles and maybe they'll have better information.

    It's interesting to me, mainly because Japanese people mainly migrated from China and the Ainu were said to be the aboriginal people of the country. Yet, here we are shown the Emishi. I wonder if Apple will have an Emishi keyboard setting at some point in time--they already have an Ainu setting. :)
  5. irmongoose macrumors 68030


    Dec 3, 2001
    Sometimes Tokyo, sometimes California
    Well, Japanese archeology is definitely not the most reliable. Just a few years ago an entire set of artifacts proving that Japan was inhabited back in the Paleolithic era was found to be all faked. Many had suspected something fishy, but following the Japanese tradition to keep hush-hush and not question authority, even the ones who blurted one word against the artifacts were kept quiet. It finally took one man to videotape the "celebrated archeologist" red-handed, planting the artifacts at the dig-up sites, to reveal the truth.

    So who knows? Maybe this Emishi stuff isn't real. Perfect for a rumors site, though., anyone? :p

  6. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    hey, can you post any links you find, even in japanese? i'm curious to read about it... (i only follow japanese sports website, so i'm clueless unless sports papers pick up stories like this as "news" :D )
  7. bousozoku thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    Of course, I will, since I'm sure that the Judo Times doesn't carry such things. :D
  8. floatingspirit macrumors 6502

    Oct 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA

    Totally cool. Thanks for the story!

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