The ancient Japanese believed in the power of symbols and rituals to protect them from evil spirits, and now archaeologists have unearthed a remarkable example of this belief: a 7.5-foot-long iron sword that was buried with a nobleman in a 1,600-year-old burial mound near the city of Nara.
This is one of the largest swords ever found in Japan, and it’s an example of a dakō, a type of sword with a distinctive wavy or undulating blade. These swords have been found in other ancient Japanese tombs, but the size of this one is exceptional.
The sword was found during the sixth season of archaeological excavations at the Tomio Maruyama burial mound, or kofun. This burial mound is located in a park just west of Nara and dates from the fourth century A.D. It may have been built to commemorate the burial of a person related to the imperial Yamato family.
The sword is too large to wield as a weapon, so its purpose was probably to protect the person it was buried with from evil spirits. The distinctive undulating shape of dakō swords may represent a dragon or a snake, and may have been intended to increase their perceived magical power.
Along with the sword, archaeologists also unearthed a large bronze mirror, shaped like a shield, which is about 2 feet (60 centimeters) long and about a 1 foot (30 cm) wide. Like the oversized sword, archaeologists think this was intended to protect the dead from evil spirits.
These discoveries indicate that the technology of the Kofun period was more advanced than had been imagined. They are masterpieces in metalwork from that period, and a fascinating insight into the beliefs of the ancient Japanese.
So if you’re interested in learning more about the ancient Japanese and their beliefs, make sure to check out this blog post to learn more about the incredible discovery of this 7.5-foot-long iron sword.