Karako Kagi Ruins (唐古・鍵遺跡)

The Karako Kagi Ruins are the remains of a Yayoi period moat-surrounded settlement located in Oaza-Karako and Oaza-Kagi, Taharamoto-cho, Shiki-gun, Nara Prefecture, which is an alluvial area about 48 meters in height in the central part of Nara basin.

The area of the ruins known to date is about 300,000 square meters. In addition to its big scale, the area got into the news after the discovery of the sites where large-scale buildings and workshops such as bronze ware casting furnaces were. In 1999 it was designated as a national historical spot, and a multistory tower drawn on unearthed earthen vessels are restored in the ruins.

The site is regarded as a place where jades and earthen vessels across the country were carried in, a main place where dotaku (bronze bell-shaped vessels) were produced and a settlement which had bases of important powers among Japanese Islands in the Yayoi period.

Early Yayoi period

Formation of Settlements
Resident areas were formed on low hills to the north/west/south of the ruins.

Each resident area was about 150 x 300 meters wide. A lot of farming tools such as hoes and plows, industrial tools such as ax handles, various unfinished wooden containers such as high cups and pots were found in this area. Stone knives in this period were made of rhyolite taken from Mt. Miminashi-yama, 6 km away to the south of the ruins. Things showing from raw stones to stone knives in the process of production have been excavated. From this, it is estimated that various tools were built from the time when this settlement was formed and the settlement provided the tools to the surrounding areas.

The remains of a large-size building on stilts, the oldest for the Yayoi period were found. This building is presumed to have been the central building in the west zone.

Middle Yayoi Period

Separation of Settlements (Early Middle Period)
Moat-surrounded settlements were built in the neighborhood of the three resident areas

A large-size building was constructed in the west resident area.

Integration of the Settlements (Middle Middle Period)
A big circular moat was dug out around the three resident areas and they were integrated into one resident area.
(an irregular circle 500 meters in the major axis and 400 meters in the minor axis)

There are one inner circular moat more than eight meters in width and four to five outer circular moats four to five meters in width. The group of these multiple circular moats encloses the outside edge of the resident areas 150 to 200 meters in width, forming a circular moat zone. The inside of each resident area remains uninvestigated, but these regions are presumed to have been living spaces for various craftworkers from the fact that in the southwest of the village there is a market-like place where earthen vessels carried in from Kawach, Omi, Ki and so on were found, in the south a place where unfinished wooden cups, remains related to bronze ware casting and remains of furnaces were found and in the north a place where raw stones of sanukite and their fragments were found in clusters. It is highly possible that there was a high floor building in the central portion of the south area, which can be regarded as the most important area. These things suggest that in the big circular moat areas compartments were made functionally.

Late Middle Period
A custom of drawing buildings such as towers, animals and persons on earthen vessels was verified.

The circular moats were buried because of a flood.

Late Yayoi Period

Development of the Settlements
From the latter half of the middle period to the last period circular moats were dug out again after floods and the circular moat area reached a maximum size. The moats buried by the flood were reconstructed at this period. This is the characteristic of Karako Kagi Ruins.

Bronze ware was produced in the southern district of the settlement.

Early Kofun Period

Decline of the Settlements
Disappearance of Large Circular Moats.

Re-digging up of a part of circular moats. Through the Yayoi period the moat-surrounded settlements were abandoned, they were formed again in the early Kofun period. This is regarded as a feature of Karako Kagi Ruins.

Same as in the early Yayoi period, residence remains have been found mostly in three areas (west/north/south). In the following periods the number of remains also shows the tendency to increase.

Decreased remains such as wells show the contraction of the resident areas.

After the late Kofun Period

Disappearances of the Settlements
With the building of a zenpokoenfun (large-scale keyhole-shaped tomb) in the center of the ruins, it became a grave area.

Middle Ages
Residences of the Karako, Karakominami, and Karakohigashi clans were built.

The area around the Karakominami clan's residence developed into the present the Kagi settlement.

Edo Period
Karako Kagi pond was built.

The area around the ruins turned into rice fields.

Main Remains

Remains of a large-size building in the early middle Yayoi period were discovered.

Remains of a large-size building in the early middle Yayoi period, which can be seen as remains of dotaku workshop were discovered.

In the northern zone two mokkanbo tombs in the early Yayoi period were discovered.

Remains of wells
Remains of areas with big circular moats
In the neighborhood of the circular moat in the southeast side of the southern zone, a square-shaped circular moat tomb, prior to the formation of large scale circular moat settlements.

Main Remainders

Clay vessels carried in from various places such as western Osaka Prefecture, southern Shiga Prefecture, Mie Prefecture, western Aich Prefecture and southern Okayama Prefecture, were unearthed.

In one mokkannbo (wooden coffin tomb), bones of a male adult in the Yayoi period was found.

A lot of earthen vessels with pictures drawn on them were unearthed.

A 'rokaku' is drawn on two fragments of these vessels. A rokaku means a high building with more than two stories. There are six buildings with curved roof decorations, and they are prestigious buildings. Among them the "rokaku" has a lot of curved roof decorations, so it is presumed to be the most prestigious building. Forty-six earthen vessels on which pictures of buildings are drawn have been founded in various places in Western Japan; of them fifteen came out from these ruins and six vessels on which pictures of buildings with roof decorations are drawn were found in these ruins and only one in the neighboring village, Kiyomizukaze (Tenri City).

Picture-drawn earthen vessels: line drawing carved on vessels with a spatulate tool.
They were found mainly in Kinki region in the latter half of the Yayoi period
Three hundred vessels, the largest number, were unearthed in these ruins. Next come Kiyomizukaze Ruins, from which about 50 of them were excavated. They are thought to have been earthen vessels for religious service. Pictures are drawn on earthenware for storing liquid such as water jugs and sake jugs. Subjects of the paintings are buildings, persons, deer and so on.

A limonite container containing two large magatama (comma-shaped gems) were found.

Jade magatama (raw material from places around Itoigawa-cho, Niigata City)
Stone tools (stone knives)
Wooden agricultural tools
Kofun were discovered.
Zenpokoenfun (large keyhole-shaped tomb)

Animal's bones (wild boars, dogs and pigs)
Fragments of bronze vessels, copper ingots, copper dregs, outer frames of molds, blast tubes, fragments of heated earthen vessels

[Original Japanese]