Roman and Early Byzantine finds from Japanese Archipelago – a critical survey

Keywords: Japan, Silk Road, Trade, Exchange, Roman Byzantine period

Abstract

Artifacts discovered on the Japanese archipelago, which are interpreted as being of Roman and Byzantine pro-venance, are critically discussed in the following article. In light of chemical analyses, some of the glass artifacts found, including beads and vessels, are related to the glass typical of Mediterranean workshops. They were imported in the times of their production. New numismatic discoveries from Okinawa, dated to the fourth century, were found in layers associated with the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and cannot be contemporaneous with the glass imports. The silk textile from Shōsō-in, despite its superficial similarity to Early Byzantine art products, seems to be a Central Asian/Chinese imitation, probably woven in the workshops of Chang’an. Thus, finds of Mediterranean origin, produced in the Roman and Early Byzantine epochs, are insignificant in their number and their imports were isolated cases. However, their presence supports the thesis that the Japanese archipelago should be included as part of the ancient network of the Silk Road.

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Published
2020-12-16
How to Cite
Szmoniewski, B. S. (2020). Roman and Early Byzantine finds from Japanese Archipelago – a critical survey. Sprawozdania Archeologiczne, 72(2). https://doi.org/10.23858/SA/72.2020.2.1712