Discovered in a burial mound dating from the late 4th century in Nara City, the longest iron sword in East Asia has been unveiled to the press for the first time. By removing rust and mud from the surface, you can also see part of the "pod" and "tsuka".

In December last year, an iron sword with a wavy shape called a "serpentine sword" was found in the Tomio Maruyama Tomb in Nara City, which is said to have been built in the latter half of the 4th century.

It is considered the oldest sword of the same type in Japan and the longest sword of the same era in East Asia.

The prefectural Kashihara Archaeological Institute in Kashihara City is cleaning for preservation, and since the work on one side has been completed, it was opened to the press for the first time on the 12th.

The surface of the sword is cleared of rust and mud, and you can see parts of the wooden "sheath" that holds the sword and the "tsuka" of the handle.

It was also newly discovered that the surface of the pods had a red pigment called "mercury vermilion" on top of a layer of black lacquer.

Riku Murase, curator of the Nara City Archaeological Research Center, who was in charge of the excavation, said, "The red color means to ward off evil spirits, but the serpentine sword itself has magical meanings, and we would like to clarify what this vermilion is in the future."

The other side of the iron sword will be cleaned in the future, and the type of wood used and the production area of mercury vermilion will also be investigated.

Archaeology expert "Pods and tsukas" are also king size"

Takasaku Okabayashi, curatorial advisor at the Nara Prefectural Kashihara Archaeological Research Institute, who is familiar with the Kofun period, said, "I think there are other examples of lacquered wooden pods and tsuka, and I think they are common.

On top of that, he expressed his expectations for the future, saying, "The sword itself is huge, but I think that the 'sheath' and 'tsuka' that cover it are also king-sized, and since it is thought that the opposite side is in better condition than the side where the work was completed this time, it would be interesting if we could see the situation on that side and understand the actual situation of the giant 'pods' and 'tsuka'."

Swordsmith "surprised by the size and length"

Kunihei Kawachi, 50, a swordsmith from Higashiyoshino Village, Nara Prefecture, who has been making Japan swords for more than 81 years and working on the restoration of ancient swords, said, "I was surprised by the size and length of the sword when I saw the real thing.

On top of that, he said, "The sword technology that has been handed down now dates back to around the end of the Tokugawa shogunate, and the technology of the Edo period and the Kofun period before that is not known at all.

What is the Tomio Maruyama burial mound where the iron sword was found?

The Tomio Maruyama Kofun where this iron sword was found is a large round burial mound with a round shape, and is said to have been built in the latter half of the 4th century in the early Kofun period.

It is located in the hilly area called Yada Hills, about 6 kilometers west of the center of Nara City, and in the first survey conducted by the prefecture in 47 (Showa 1972), burial facilities and grave goods were found in the summit part.

In addition, as a result of detailed surveying conducted by Nara City using a laser in Heisei 29, it was found that it is the largest circular burial mound in Japan with a diameter of about 110 meters.

As a result of these investigations, it is believed that the burial mound had a three-tiered structure, the surface was covered with stones, and haniwa was placed around the embankment.

Burial facilities can be found near the top of the burial mound and in the area called "zokude" that protrudes squarely to the northeast of the burial mound.

The iron sword was first identified in January during this "creation" survey, and was placed in clay covering a wooden casket with a bronze mirror in the shape of a shield.

A series of discoveries of important excavated items have been made.

From the Tomio Maruyama Kofun, important excavated items have been discovered one after another.

The burial mound was destroyed by robbery in the Meiji era, but the ono, knife, and chisel-shaped stone products unearthed during that time were designated as important cultural properties and are stored at the Kyoto National Museum.

In addition, a bronze mirror called the "Sankakubuchi Shinjukyo" that is said to have been excavated from a burial mound is also in the Tenri Reference Hall attached to Tenri University in Tenri City.

During excavations conducted by Nara Prefecture in Showa 47, iron swords and swords, copper arrowheads and tubular balls were unearthed.

In this excavation, which has been conducted by Nara City since Heisei 29, in addition to iron swords and shield-shaped mirrors, fragments of mirrors made in China called "Shaenshinjukyo" found in the graves of influential people were also found, and rare haniwa that represents the "spring water facility", a building built in a place where water gushes.