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Japan

A Pilgrimage to Himiko’s Tomb

It’s not every day you get the chance to visit Yamatai or take a leisurely stroll around Himiko’s tomb. But one hot (and thankfully not too humid) day in September, my husband and I got the chance to do just that when we took some time off from our regular sightseeing and boarded a train bound for Nara, a former capital city not far from Osaka that’s renowned for its ancient temples, giant Buddha statue, and free-roaming deer. Once there, we transferred onto a smaller regional train bound for Makimuku, a small and fairly nondescript station on the Sakurai Line. To most, ... [Continue Reading]

October 7, 2015 // 5 Comments

Lara’s Travels: The Dragon’s Triangle

Fans of Tomb Raider 2013 will recall that Lara and the Endurance crew venture into the region known as the Dragon’s Triangle in search of the lost kingdom of Yamatai. Throughout the course of the game, players became well-acquainted with this fictional island, its inhabitants, and the supernatural conditions that prevented people from leaving its shores. But what do we know about the Triangle itself? The Dragon’s Triangle, also referred to as the Devil’s Sea (Ma no Umi, 魔の海, in Japanese) or Formosa Triangle, is a region of the Pacific Ocean off the southern coast of ... [Continue Reading]

November 29, 2014 // 5 Comments

Arte-Factual: 100 Mon Coin (Tomb Raider 2013)

It’s been a while since I last wrote about one of Tomb Raider 2013’s collectible relics and since it’s been a year since the game was released, what better time than to examine one of the ancient coins Lara finds inside the Cliffside Bunker on Yamatai? The 100 mon coin, also referred to as a “Tempō Tsūhō” (天保通寶), is one of the two Japanese coins Lara finds inside the cliffside bunker (the other being the “2 sen coin“) and, as Lara quite correctly points out, thousands of these coins were issued by the Japanese government in the mid-1800s. ... [Continue Reading]

March 13, 2014 // 4 Comments

The Hunt for Himiko Continues: Has Himiko’s Palace Been Found?

The search for the shaman queen Himiko and her kingdom Yamatai has long been one of the holy grails of Japanese archaeology but it seems that archaeologists are another step closer to pinpointing the exact location of her long-lost kingdom. Archaeologists working at the Makimuku archaeological site in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, one of the possible locations of Yamatai’s ancient capital, have uncovered the ruins of a building that may have been part of the queen’s residential quarters. The newly-excavated ruins lie to the east of a large building that had been discovered at the ... [Continue Reading]

February 9, 2014 // 6 Comments

Arte-Factual: Metal Inro (Tomb Raider 2013)

It’s been a while since I last wrote about an artefact from Tomb Raider 2013. Over a month, in fact. So without further ado, it’s time to examine one of the many collectible items hidden throughout the Shanty Town: the Metal Inrō. Inrō are small cases that were once used by Japanese men and women to carry identity seals (hanko), herbal medicine, tobacco, acupuncture needles, or other small personal effects around with them, not unlike a modern-day wallet or pouch. These cases, which consisted of anything between 2 and 7 interlocking compartments, were held together by silk cords ... [Continue Reading]

August 25, 2013 // 15 Comments

The Hunt for Himiko: Will Archaeologists Ever Excavate the Hashihaka Tomb?

In Tomb Raider 2013, Lara and the rest of the Endurance crew set out to look for the lost kingdom of Yamatai and its mysterious queen, Himiko, but, in reality, Japanese archaeologists have known the possible location of Himiko’s tomb for a few years now. Long-time readers of this blog may recall that a group of researchers were allowed access to the Hashihaka kofun burial mound earlier this year in the hope that they’d be able to confirm whether the tomb in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, was indeed Himiko’s final resting place. The radiocarbon dating of clay pots found in a ... [Continue Reading]

July 30, 2013 // 12 Comments

Arte-Factual: Kansu Burial Urn (Tomb Raider 2013)

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for another edition of Arte-Factual! Last time, we looked at the killer whale bottle from Tomb Raider: Anniversary and learnt a little about the Nasca, their beliefs, and their art. This time we’ll be taking a close look at one of the many collectible items found in Tomb Raider 2013: the Kansu burial urn. The “Kansu burial urn” bears a striking resemblance to a ceramic jar in the Asia Society’s collection, a Banshan type storage jar that dates back to China’s Neolithic Period and which was most likely discovered in Gansu ... [Continue Reading]

July 10, 2013 // 11 Comments

Unearthed: 23rd June 2013

Archaeology Blog: Back in the Trenches (GraecoMuse) Real archaeology may not be anything like the “archaeology” depicted in the Tomb Raider games but that doesn’t mean it can’t be exciting and good fun, as Jenni’s latest blog post shows. High-tech inspired insights into Japan’s ancient ‘Kofun’ burial mounds (Phys.Org) Japanese archaeologist Izumi Niiro talks about the high-tech techniques he’s using to study and survey kofun (古墳) burial mounds in Japan’s Okayama Prefecture. Lost Continents and Other Historical Fiction ... [Continue Reading]

June 23, 2013 // 0 Comments

News: 2nd Century Wooden Mask Unearthed in Nara, Japan

Archaeologists working at the Daifuku archaeological site (大福遺跡) in Sakurai (桜井), Nara Prefecture, Japan, have unearthed a fragment of a wooden mask thought to date back to the mid to late 2nd century. The mask is made of Japanese umbrella pine and bears a strong resemblance to a mask that was found at the Makimuku archaeological site (纒向遺跡) in 2007. Makimuku is a site under much scrutiny in Japan because it is considered a hopeful candidate location for Yamatai, a mysterious early nation governed by shaman queen Himiko. Makimuku developed into a major settlement during a ... [Continue Reading]

June 5, 2013 // 2 Comments

Arte-Factual: Gunbai War Fan (Tomb Raider 2013)

In the last edition of Arte-Factual, we looked at the history and context of the Ban Chiang vase, one of the many collectable relics Lara stumbles upon in Tomb Raider 2013. This time, we will look at one of the relics Lara finds in the Mountain Temple: a Gunbai war fan. Gunbai fans, also known as gunbai uchiwa (軍配団扇) in Japanese, were once part of a samurai military commander’s standard command equipment and were used to direct troops in battle as well as offer the commander protection from arrows, rocks, wind, and the sun. Other command equipment commonly used by samurai ... [Continue Reading]

May 3, 2013 // 7 Comments

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Archaeology News – 8th to 14th April 2013

Africa : Archaeologists Find Earliest Evidence of Humans Cooking With Fire (Discover Magazine) Egypt’s King Khufu’s harbour in Suez discovered (Ahram Online) Asia : 2012 a peak year for [Chinese] archaeologists (CNTV) 4,000-Year-Old Relics Unearthed on Banks of Narmada (IBTraveller) Ancient tomb found in Lujiang, China (China Daily) Ancient tomb raided hours after it was discovered (China Daily) Archaeologists on front lines of protecting ancient culture in turbulent regions (University of Wisconsin-Madison) Art, bodies found in ancient caves (Illawarra Mercury) China reports top ... [Continue Reading]

April 14, 2013 // 0 Comments

Daily Links – 2nd, 3rd and 4th April 2013

90th anniversary of the curse of Tutankhamen – how a modern myth was born (University of Manchester) On the eve of the 90th anniversary of the death of Lord Carnavon, Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley explains why the curse of Tutankhamen is nothing but a myth. (Author’s comment: 90 years later and newspapers are still creating modern-day myths of their own) The Beginnings of CONsent (16-Bit Sirens) Inspired by Megan Marie’s article about sexual discrimination within the video games industry, Sushi Killer presents the beginnings of her photo essay, “CONsent: The Importance of ... [Continue Reading]

April 4, 2013 // 3 Comments

Daily Links - 30th March 2013

Object biography #12: A wooden shabti of King Seti I (Acc. no. 13906) (Egypt at the Manchester Museum) Campbell writes about one of the wooden shabti figures of King Seti I in the Manchester Museum’s collection. Hitachi to sponsor a new online archaeology and arts project (The Heritage Trust) Hitachi’s European division will be donating £120,000 to the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures to develop a website that will allow schoolchildren to learn about Japanese history and archaeological treasures. (Author’s comment: I wonder if they’ll ... [Continue Reading]

March 30, 2013 // 0 Comments

Have Archaeologists Discovered Himiko’s Tomb?

Queen Himiko (卑弥呼) and her kingdom, Yamatai (or  Yamatai-koku) (邪馬台国), play a central role in Tomb Raider 2013. But did you know that in February 2013, a group of researchers were granted access to a burial mound in Sakurai (桜井), Nara Prefecture, Japan, which may be the actual final resting place of this mysterious queen? The location of Yamatai-koku is a subject of intense debate within Japanese archaeological circles. Some believe that it was located as far south as Okinawa (沖縄) while others believe that it was located in Kyūshū (九州), the third largest island ... [Continue Reading]

March 11, 2013 // 7 Comments

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