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26 November 2003
Japanese rock image a fake

A carved image of a man shooting an arrow, originally dated back to the middle Jomon period, is now thought to be a forgery. The volcanic rock carving was found at an archaeological site in Chino, Nagano Prefecture, where the first remains were confirmed of a settlement from the Jomon period (10000 BCE – 300 BCE). The carved rock – 30 centimetres high, 19 centimetres wide and seven centimeters thick – was found in 1967. Experts said that it was characteristic of drawings of humans from the middle Jomon period. But recent tests by the Togariishi Jomon Archaeological Museum suggest that the image was carved by a knife, rather than by the implements used for carving in its supposed period of origin.
     The museum suspended display of the carving and began its investigation after January 2003. At that time Hideji Harunari, a professor at the National Museum of Japanese History, said that the piece might not be as old as previously believed, because the carved lines had no trace of weathering. A further clue was the similarity to an engraving on a bronze bell-shaped vessel of the Yayoi period (300 BCE – 300 CE), also in the museum’s possession. The dating of the forgery is unknown, and the person who found the rock is deceased.
     “We had never investigated the drawing since it was considered an important historical object,” said Yukio Ukai, director of the Jomon Museum.

Source: Daily Yomiuri Online (24 November 2003)

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