Makimuku (Japon): Remains of building may be part of ancient queen's palace

Kazuto Tsukamoto / Photos: The Asahi Shimbun

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New excavations at the Makimuku archaeological dig here have unearthed the remains of a building that further indicate the palace of the shaman queen Himiko was located on the site in the earliest days of Japan, municipal education board officials said Feb. 6.


"The latest finding virtually confirms that buildings stood in a regular geometry along the central axis of a quadrangular area stretching 150 meters from east to west," said Hironobu Ishino, director of the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Archaeology. "That is an extraordinary dimension for third-century artifacts. It now appears ever more likely that the site represents the residential area of the two queens of the Yamatai state, Himiko and her successor, Toyo, who are mentioned in an official chronicle of China."

In 2009, remains of a building from the first half of the third century, Japan's largest from the corresponding period, at 19.2 meters in a north to south direction and 12.4 meters from east to west, were discovered at the Makimuku excavation site. Remains of two smaller buildings have been found to the west, sitting on the same east-west axis.


The latest finds were unearthed 36.5 meters east of the remains of the big building. They comprise 10 square-shaped pillar holes, each measuring 40-60 centimeters per side, and are the remnants of a building that likely stretched 3.4 meters from east to west and 6.7 meters from north to south. It sits along the same axial line as the three known building sites, indicating they all date from the same time period.

The Makimuku site, which dates from the early third century to the early fourth century, has been designated a historic site by the government. It is located near the ancient capital of Nara.