Tokyo, Feb 3 (ANI): History buffs in Japan are being asked to help fund an archaeological survey that will try to find the ancient Yamatai kingdom, the location of which has been one of the country's greatest mysteries.
According to a report in Asahi Weekly, the survey would include a full-scale excavation of the central part of the Makimuku ruins in the city of Sakurai, estimated to date from the late second to early fourth century.
The ruins, extending 1.5 kilometers north-south and 2 km east-west, contain six keyhole-shaped burial mounds, one of which some researchers believe is that of Himiko (ca third century), whose life is shrouded in mystery.
Ancient Chinese texts describe her as a shaman queen whose rule in the Yamatai kingdom brought an end to a period of war and upheaval, but little is known about her and historians have fiercely debated the location of her kingdom.
The excavation will cover an area where traces of a shrine-like structure were unearthed 30 years ago, but not the burial mounds.
City officials said that a large-scale palace could have stood in the structure's neighborhood.
They hope the research will help determine if the Yamatai kingdom was located here or elsewhere in the Kinki region.
Some theories place it in northern Kyushu, where there is a strong claim to the kingdom among residents and local authorities.
According to the Sakurai education board, there have been 160 studies of the ruins since 1971, most of them made necessary by development plans in the area.
Only 5 percent of the entire ruins has been covered by those studies.
One study conducted in 1978 by the Nara prefectural Kashihara Archaeological Institute unearthed traces of a shrine-type structure from the early to mid-third century. It measured 4.4 by 5.3 meters.
On one side of the main structure were traces of a smaller, secondary hall. Traces of a fence were also excavated.
The institute's research was limited in scale because it, too, was carried out in order to allow a parking lot to be built.
The board plans a full-scale excavation of the structure's vicinity, about 450 square meters in area, through late March at a cost of 4 million yen.
According to officials, the research area will be expanded in April and the study will continue for several years. (ANI)