A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
2,000-Year-Old Scale Weights identified in Japan
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
KASUGA, JAPAN—According to a report in The Asahi Shimbun, researchers including Junichi Takesue of Fukuoka University have identified two scale weights estimated to be more than 2,000 years old among artifacts unearthed in 1989 at the Sugu-Okamoto archaeological site, which is located on the southern island of Kyushu. The site, inhabited by people of the Yayoi Pottery Culture, is one of a series of sites known as the Sugu group, and may have been part of the early Japanese state of Na. One of the cylindrical stones, known as a decuple weight, weighs ten times the reference weight of 11 grams, or about 0.4 of one ounce. A second stone, known as a trigintuple weight, weighs 30 times the reference weight. The weights were found near a bronze workshop, and may have been used to weigh copper and lead. Similar weights measuring 1, 3, 6, 20, and 30 times the reference unit have been found at other sites in the Sugu group. Bronze weights with approximately the same reference weight have been unearthed in southern South Korea. To read about a man likely killed by a shark some 3,000 years ago, go to "Around the World: Japan."
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