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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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1,100-Year-Old Engraved Pagoda Fragment Found in Japan

Monday, December 3, 2018

NONOICHI, JAPAN—The Asahi Shimbun reports that a piece of pottery dating back at least 1,100 years and inscribed with the figure of a smiling woman with long hair was unearthed at the site of a Buddhist temple on the island of Honshu, near the coast of the Sea of Japan. Officials from the Nonoichi City Board of Education said the temple dates to the Asuka Period, between A.D. 592 and 710, while the piece of pottery, which measures about seven inches long and four inches wide, is thought to have been part of the first floor of a gato, or earthen pagoda, built in the ninth century. The image may represent a celestial nymph who served Miroku Bosatsu, a Buddhist deity. She holds a ritual implement called a hossu and wears a dress with vertical stripes. The tips of her shoes curve upwards. To read about another recent discovery in Japan, go to “Samurai Nest Egg.”

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