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At the end of a very long trip from Italy (and after having escaped Krose typhoon wich wipped japanese arcipelagus by the middle of august), archaeologists, scientists and communicators of BeArchaeo project finally reached their final destination: Okayama.

The first week of work was very intense but exciting.

Archaeologists from IRIAE officially kicked off the first excavation campaign in Tobiotsuka kofun and collaborated with japanese counterpart (the University of Okayama) to excavate and clean the whole site.

Activity was frenetic. Every day, from 9 AM on to 5 PM, archaeologists worked on three different scenarios.

Two of them were very similar. We are referring to two trenches excavated on two sides of the kofun, both coming down over the top of the mound.

Wich have permitted to establish position, shape and global conditions of kofun’s roof.

Last scenario was represented by inner kofun. A funerary chamber previously only populated by strange creatures like bats and insects…

Archaeologists have divided the area into sections and began excavating.

Some small pottery fragments (pertaining to Sue typology) came out from top soil level. It seemed to be relevant ceramics, since might be dated back to second half of VI century AD.

If this will be confirmed will means that the tomb itself is older than expected.

Also a couple of botanists from University of Turin joint the excavation and picked up some samples of soil, specially from the tomb.

They wanted to know how many microorganism and which species populated the tomb soil.

Following the ‘archaeological line’, an IRIAE paleozoologist started studying animal bones and shells hosted in the laboratory of the Center for Archaeological Operations in Okayama city. Thanks to valuable help of Dr Ogizaki (the archaeologist who has excavated the wonderful site of Minamikata, the urban settlement that represented the core of ancient Okayama), nearly 40 boxes full of interesting remains have been put at IRIAE scientist’s disposal.

Another group of BeArchaeo, leaded by University of Turin, worked in the lab of dr Toshi Nozaka in order to observe with a stereoscopic microscope in reflected light some small glass beads possibly pertaining to a necklace. Of course, more analysis are expected from them. Specially when they’ll be ready to make X ray fluorescence on target items to determine their own chemical composition.

The campaign of ‘thermoluminescence dating’ also started in the past days. A scientist from Tecnart (one of BeArchaeo partners) put on the Shinpon Tatezaka mound some special dosimeters for measuring environmental radioactivity.

That was a fundamental step to achieve the exact dating of it.


Marco Merola


© photo Marco Merola

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