History

New Findings Suggest That Ancient Japan Was More Cosmopolitan Than First Thought

ancient japan
A wood strip, that is more than 1,000 years old, was unearthed in Japan's former capital Nara names a Persian official living in the country.
A wood strip, that is more than 1,000 years old, was unearthed in Japan’s former capital Nara names a Persian official living in the country.

New findings show that ancient Japan might have been a civilization that was more cosmopolitan than previously thought. Fresh evidence indicates that 1,000 years ago a Persian official worked in Nara, which was the former capital of Japan. Nara was Japan’s ancient capital from approximately 710 A.D. to 784 A.D.

Since the 7th century at least, direct trade links have existed between Japan and Iran. Researchers tested a piece of wood and the findings suggested that broader ties may have existed. This piece of wood was discovered back in the 1960s.

The testing used infrared imaging and showed characters appearing in the wood, which up until this point was unreadable. A Persian official was named and he was living in Japan.

According to Akihiro Watanabe, a Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties researcher, this official was working at an academy where training took place for government officials. He also added that due to ancient Iran’s substantial knowledge in mathematics, he may have been teaching that subject.

Akihiro Watanabe also said that this was the first evidence showing that a Persian was working as far away as Japan during this time period. As well, this data suggests that the formal capital Nara treated foreigners equally as a cosmopolitan city.

Last month another research team discovered ancient Roman coins in Okinawa, which is located in southern Japan. These coins were unearthed at the ruin site of an old castle and it was the first time that coins from this era have ever been found in Japan. It’s highly likely that these coins were minted far away from the area where they were discovered.