Makimuku Remains (纒向遺跡)

Makimuku Remains ("纒向遺跡" or "纏向遺跡") is a series of remains located at the north-west foot of Mt. Miwa ("三輪山."also called Mt. Mimoro, "御諸山" or Mt. Mimuro "三室山") in Sakurai-City, Nara Prefecture, which existed during the period of the last stage of the Yayoi period to the early Tumulus period of ancient Japan. Those remains are considered to be the origins of the ancient Japanese tumuluses of a circular shape with a rectangular frontage.


The name of these remains is derived from the village name of Makimuku Village located in the former Shiki District, which was named after the Makimuku Tamakinomiya Imperial Palace of Emperor Suinin and the Makimuku Hishironomiya Imperial Palace of Emperor Keiko, both located in this area.

The known area of these remains (as of the year 2000 and later) is about 3 square kilometers, which extends to the north up to Karasuda River, to the south up to Gomibara River, to the east up to Makinouchi Area close to Yamanobeno-michi Street, to the west up to Higashida Area. On the detailed map of the remains produced from the investigation, the expanse of the area is 2 kilometers long in east-west orientation and 1.5 kilometers long in south-north orientation forming an ellipse shape, with an area up to 3,000 square meters spreading around the location of today's JR Makumuku Station as its center.

The topographic conditions of the area reveal that the east part of the territory is higher and the west part is lower. Mountain streams from Mt. Miwa, Mt. Makimuko, Mt. Anashi, and other mountains converge to join the Makimukai River, forming an alluvial fan where the remains are located.

The period of the existence of Makimuku Village could date back to the late to the final stage of the Jomon period (the period producing earthenware with a pattern of rope). In addition to the crude earthenware pieces and Sanukite pieces (musical instrument), other products, such as stone curved sticks, earthen figure sculptures, deep pot pieces, were excavated throughout the area of the remains, which suggests the existence of a village at this location during the Jomon period.

However, any evidence of a village nor a village with a moat constructed around the territory from the Yayoi period has not been found throughout the remains. Therefore the fact of Makimuku Remains during the Yayoi period has not been well known as of today. Only some pieces of a bronze bell-shaped vessel and two set of stake marks on the ground from the Yayoi period have been discovered. However, many pieces of earthenware produced during the mid to the late Yayoi period have been found at the location slightly south to the Makimuku Remains, and other remains, such as tombs surrounded by a square moat and pit-houses, were excavated. Furthermore, many relics have been excavated from the south-west location of Makimuku Remains.

Makimuku Remains represent the beginning of the Tumulus period in Japan, and they became the center of the attention to prove the theory that Yamataikoku was founded in Kidai region (Kinki region). There are a few archeological features remained from the first half of the 3rd century. The heyday of the village of these remains was considered to be from the end of the 3rd century to the first of the 4th century. Many set of ritual instruments used for honoring Mt. Miwa were found from the remains of large-scale agricultural channels, along with a countless number of holes on the ground. Some relics, including Kibi style Komonenban (arc patterned disc) produced for ritual usage, were found from the surrounding moat of Ishizuka Tumulus. From the relics considered to be produced after the prime time of the village at the end of the 4th century, Haniwa style relics (a clay images) start to appear among those excavated products.

In the Asuka period to the Nara period, this area was developed to form a city called Oichi. This is the prime reason that Hashihaka Tumulus is presumably defined as Oichibaka (the tomb of Oichi) by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan. Some remains of wells, hole marks on the ground, and the track of a river were discovered as the remains of Nara to Heian periods. Some pieces of earthenware written as "Oichi" in black sumi ink were also discovered.

Archeological Excavation

Until the recent extensive archelogic excavation, these remains were known as Ota Remains or Katsuyama Remains, a small-scale, insignificant remains without getting much attention among the members of Japanese archeological societies. However, the atmosphere of the archeological community changed after the operation of a preliminary excavation research by Archelological Institute of Kashihara prior to the construction of a municipal housing and an elementary school at the site; the remains got the attention of archeological communities after the discovery of the canal style constructions in 5m width, 1m depth and the total length of 200m and more. The excavations continued to find various remains and relics throughout the site. After the 15th excavation carried out in 1977, the primary body of the researches was handed over from the Archeological Institute of Kashihara to the Sakurai City Board of Education to succeed and continue the researches, and excavations still continue today. In 2009, some new remains of the buildings were found, which would be evidences of Makimuku Remains as a developed, civilized urban community surrounded and protected by fences and fortifications.

Significant archeological features and remains

Major archeologic features
Makimuku Remains are enormous and 10 times as large as the Karako/Kagi Remains, are comparable to the scale of Fujiwara Palace, and larger than the Taga Castle Remains. Multiple archeological features revealing the vestige of an urban planning have been discovered.

An enormous water channel was discovered, which measures 5m in width, 1m in depth and 200m in total length, with wooden sheet piles protecting its banks.

Water springs out from the bottom of the water channel, and the inside of the channel is largely divided into three layers. As many as 150 stake marks of irregular circles protruding into one direction were found on the ground, each of which measures 3m in diameter and 1.5m in depth.

The remains of a pile building and some accompanying constructions have been excavated.
(Those remains excavated in this area are considered to be produced in the first half of the early Tumulus period, constructed in about 23 square meters in 3.6 meters x 5.45 meters dimention, and also some other accompanying remains have been excavated including; an archeological feature representing a sign of a collapsed building, along with a wooden artifact in black lacquer with arc patterns; a small building measuring 1.8 meters x 1.8 meters; another 3.6 meters x 3.6 meters all-pillared building along with black lacquered, arc patterned wooden relics; it may be inferred from these artifacts that buildings of a major palace existed at this location.)
(17 other pit-dwellings; stone monument of Makimuku Tamashiro Palace Remains.)

The continuing excavation has started to discover the remains of some pit-dwellings.

V-shaped zoning ditches constructed with arc patterned wooden planks, earthwork, embankment, and fences constructed along with ditches have been excavated. Remains of water conveyance facility have been discovered.
(It is inferred from the artifacts that the ditches were used as a drainage channels of the palace.)
The dispersedly existing tumulus within the boundary of the remains (Makimuku Tumuluses)
The remains of a ritual place (from the location of Makimuku Hishiro Imperial Palace of Emperor Keiko described by the Imperial tradition, some artifacts have been discovered, such as a jasper Magatama, stone Kushiro, jasper Kudatama (for threaded necklace), glass beads, and the earthenware from the late 4th century.

There are possibilities that many tumuluses are still buried under the ground, yet to be discovered.

Major artifacts
Rooster shaped wooden products colored in vermillion were excavated. Some wooden haniwa originally came from the Kibi region have been discovered, which is called Komon Enban (arc patterned disc) from their patterns created by the combination of linear and curved lines.

A drawstring purse made in silk fabric was discovered. Pieces of earthenware made of a roof-tile material were discovered.
(In 1996, some pieces of earthenware were excavated.)
(In 2001, according to the analysis of the soil components of the earthenware, there is no similar instance among the earthenware produced in Japan, therefore the excavated earthenware pieces were identified that they had been produced with the techniques and methods invented in the Korean Peninsula.)

Miniature scale boat
Wooden arrowhead
Earthenware brought from other regions of Japan
Iwami style shield-shaped wooden products
While many artifacts produced in various regions of ancient Japan have been excavated in Makimuku remains, the products brought from Tokai region have the largest volume among of all those artifacts.

Unique characters of the remains
Although Makimuku Remains are considered to have been a large-scale community, the sign of the village has not been discovered yet. What have been discovered in Makimuku Remains are as follows; the signs of a building considered to be built for ritual purposes and its pile marks on the ground; the ritual instruments, such as the rooster-shaped wooden products, the arc-patterned discs; large and small-scale water channels protected with wooden sheet piles made of Japanese cypress, which had been used as a distribution system. There are also many scholars suggesting that these remains were the evidences that this place functioned as a hub for the people and the products to be redistributed, or as a sacred place for performing rituals around Hashihaka Tumulus toward Mt. Miwa, rather than the place provided for residential purposes.

In Tsuji/Tori front areas, the remains of some constructions have been discovered including an all-pillared building measuring 3.6 meters x 5.45 meters spanning in south-north orientation along with a line of a fence extending in east-west orientation; in Ota Minamitobizuka area, a sign of collapsed building was discovered; in Makinouchi Ietsura area, a small building measuring 1.8 meters x 1.8 meters, and another all-pillared building measuring 3.6 meters x 3.6 meters have been discovered. Other than those discoveries, the remains of 17 all-pillared buildings from Ota Meguri area, and some pit-dwellings from Ota Tobizuka area have been discovered.

Major tumulus of Makimuku Remains
Makimuku Katsuyama Tumulus
Makimuku Yazuka Tumulus
Makimuku Ishizuka Tumulus
Higashida Otsuka Tumulus
Hasihaka Tumulus
Hokeno-yama Mountain Tumulus
According to the tree-ring dating (dendrochronology) of the wooden artifacts, Makimuku Ishizuka Tumulus was constructed by 225 at the latest.

It is considered that this Tumulus is the most convincing candidate site for the theory that states that Yamataikoku was located in the Kinai region.

The evidences of the remains suggest that the possible period of the presence of the village is from the final stage of the Yayoi period to the early Tumulus period, which overlaps with the period of the reign of Yamataikoku.

The remains suggest the this village was one of the biggest villages in Japan during that time, considering its large territory area with the clear signs of developed urban planning.

The quantity and the extent of the regions bringing in the earthenware found in Makimuku Remains throughout the 3rd century is not comparable to that of the other regions; 15% of the excavated earthenware is brought from wide variety of regions in Japan from Suruga, Owari, Ohmi, Hokuriku, Sanin to Kibi regions; thus, this particular village would have been the center of the physical distribution and the cultural exchange among communities during that period. The studies presumably suggest that the stronghold of the sovereignty (the alliance of chiefs, the Alliance of Yamataikoku) of that day was situated in this Makimuku area.

There was a Hashihaka Tumulus that is considered to be the tomb of Yamato Totohimomo Sohimenomikoto no Mikoto (Imperial Princess) according to an imperial tradition, and this tomb was an enormous tumulus of a circular shape with a rectangular frontage, with a total length of 280 meters. Makimuku-style tumuli, which are circular in shape and have a rectangular frontage with a length of around 90 m, were constructed earlier than the Hashihaka Tumulus and are some of the largest tumuli to have been constructed in Japan during 3rd century. That was the first tomb of a great king in the Yamato Sovereignty, and the Makimuku style tumuluses were built in other regions, which suggest the establishment of political alliances throughout Japan.

There is a theory that states that Yamato Totohimomo Sohimenomikoto no Mikoto (Imperial Princess) was a queen of Yamataikoku, namely Himiko ('Yamataikoku is Yamato,' Kazuo HIGO, Akita Shoten).

Judging from those points, Makimuku Remains are considered to be the most convincing candidate site for the theory that suggests that Yamataikoku was located in the Kinai region.

The birth place of Yamato Government
According to "Kiki," ("記紀," which is the general term for calling the major historic books of "Kojiki" ("古事記") and "Nihonshoki ("日本書紀")) Skimizugakinomiya Palace of Emperor Sujin, Makimuku Tamakinomiya Palace of Emperor Suinin, and Makimuku Hisironomiya Palace of Emperor Keiko used to exist, and also some other palaces, such as Hatsuseno Asakuranomiya Palace of Emperor Yuryaku, Shikishimano omiya (Kanasasinomiya) Palace of Emperor Kinmei are mentioned for their existence in the records.

In "Manyoshu" (the oldest book of collecting Waka, one of the popular traditional Japanese poetry styles), various poets took the name of this historic place, Makimuku, as the theme of their poetry.

[Original Japanese]