Shinyama Tumulus (新山古墳)

The Shinyama tumulus is a zenpo-koho (square front, square back) tumulus constructed in the early era of the first half of the Kofun period (tumulus period) and is located in Koryo-cho, Kitakatsuragi-gun, Nara Prefecture.


Belonging to the Umami burial tumulus group, it was constructed in an era earlier than most of the tumuli in the group. With the front part of the total 126-meter-long tumulus placed in the southern portion, the size of its back part is 67m in width and approx. 10m in height and that of the front part approx. 66m in width. When having been dug a hole to the earth to plant a tree in 1885, the owner of the site hit a vertical style stone chamber and lots of grave goods in addition to copper millers were unearthed from there.

Now the site is managed by The Imperial Household Agency as an Otsuka ryobo-sankochi (tumulus believed to be related to the Imperial family).

The grave goods

34 copper millers, including chokkomon-kyo millers (mirrors with a chokkomon design), were unearthed. This type of designs appeared in around the third or fourth century. Though such a design is made with straight lines and arc lines, drawing such a figure is quite complex. This design is also used for covers or shields in each tumulus. On henkei hokaku kiku shin kyo mirrors of the millers, the area around the handle of the miller is divided into square portions, and a Chinese character corresponding to each of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac was designed there in a pattern that is almost impossible to recognize the character.

The oldest gold and copper, or silver belt fittings provided with sanyo-mon design relief appeared in the second or the third century in Ding County, Hebei Province. Other designs include those related to the banryu-mon design, to the ryu or hoo design, to the soryu-mon design and to the ryu-mon design. Of them, the silver belt fittings significantly resemble copper belt fittings unearthed from tumuli in the six-dynasty period, including the Western Jin tomb in Yixing County, Jiangsu Province, and they are quite likely to have been brought from Konan (Jiāngnán) or to have been affected by those from Konan. It is considered that they were made in around 300.

[Original Japanese]