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2,000-Year-Old Ink Stone Identified in Japan

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

CHIKUZEN, JAPAN—According to a report in The Asahi Shimbun, researchers have detected traces of carbide, thought to have been used as ink, on a piece of sandy shale recovered in 2003 at the Yakushinoue ruins in northern Kyushu. The stone, now broken in two, has the classic shape of a suzuri, or ink stone. It measures about six inches long, two inches wide, and less than one-half inch thick. Writing is thought to have been introduced along the coasts of Japan, where people had contact with other cultures. Scholars use ink stones to track how writing spread. “This is the first finding unearthed inland to be confirmed as an ink stone,” said Yasuo Yanagida of Kokugakuin University. The identification of this stone suggests that writing was practiced by the people of the Yayoi Pottery Culture over a wider area than had been previously thought. For more, go to “Japan’s Early Anglers.”

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