The said wooden spinning top

What is likely to be Japan’s oldest spinning tip was recently unearthed in the Minami-Shiga archaeological site in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture. The site was thought to have been inhabited by immigrants from the Korean Peninsula. The top was unearthed together with other ceremonial items such as sacred spikes and peach seeds. Judging from pottery sherds found in the same ditch, the wooden spinning top, dates to the late Kofun period, which lasted from the late 6th to early 7th century.

The top is 4.4 cm in diameter and 6 cm high, with an axis measuring 5 millimeters in diameter and 3mm long at the tip. It was unearthed during excavation from February to April 2020. A spinning top from the late seventh century from Nara Prefecture was previously thought to be the oldest in Japan.

The Minami-Shiga archaeological site is close to Omino-Otsunomiya which was the imperial capital of Emperor Tenji between 667 and 672. Earlier in his reign, Emperor Tenji had sent an expedition into Korea to help defend the Korean Kingdom of Baekje against a coalition formed between the Kingdom of Silla and the Tang Chinese. When this expedition failed and Baekje fell, many refugees fled to Japan. Spinning tops were probably one of the many cultural items bought to Japan from Korea during this period.

Original article:

SEAA Membership

Join or Renew

Membership can be considered for any individual, professional or non-professional, doing research related to the archaeology of East Asia (China, Korea, Japan) or otherwise interested in the field. Please click the button above to sign up or renew now.