Almost a dozen stones believed to be grinders were unearthed from the Kamei excavation site in Osaka Prefecture about three decades ago. However, further research by archaeologist Susumu Morimoto revealed that the stones were actually weighing scales used in the Yayoi Period (300 BCE – 300 CE). Morimoto also claims that the scales have a 99 percent accuracy. He also believes that “it may have been a more advanced era already with measurements and mathematics.”
“This would be my first and last discovery, and the greatest [as a researcher],” said Morimoto, who is also the head of the International Cooperation Section at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. He has not stopped studying the 11 stones since he saw them after they were discovered. The stones, found in a site where a village used to stand and was surrounded by moat during Japan’s Iron Age, were cylindrical and measured 3-8 cm in length with a radius of 1-4.5 cm.
The 54-year old archaeologist was cynical of initial thoughts on the stones as grinders because they were different from the other grinding stones discovered. He also said that there was no trace of grinding from the stones. The weights were also found to be 500 years older than the oldest bronze scales, which were from the latter half of the Yayoi Period, discovered in Harunotsuji site in Iki, Nagasaki Prefecture. Morimoto’s suspicion grew stronger when he remembered the scales from Mesopotamia, which he saw at the Louvre Museum almost three years ago.
When Morimoto finalized his research and presentation for last year, he reckoned that “someone else may have already found it out as this seems too evident.” Fortunately, his discovery was the first and could help change the country’s view on this milestone in its history. “Compared with the continent (China), people back in that period are often considered barbaric,” said the archaeologist, referring to the Yayoi Period. But such may no longer be the case with the discovery on the era’s measurement system, which Morimoto believes to be more advanced.
[via Kyodo News]
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