Stone casting molds for bronze artifacts, possibly the oldest in Japan, were found at the Yoshinogari ruins in Saga Prefecture. One mold could date back to around 200 BC. The previous discovery of a stone coffin tomb in the area had prompted speculation about its occupant and the location of Japan’s ancient Yamatai kingdom. However, no human bones or burial items were found in the coffin. The latest excavation of the “mystery area” found three items from the Yayoi period: casting molds made of serpentinite and quartz-porphyry, and a clay vessel for molten metal. The molds, possibly for casting swords and spears, were found near the stone coffin. The discovery is seen as significant in understanding the ruins’ structure and changes. An archaeologist suggested that the technology for the molds may have come from the Korean Peninsula. The ruins, a national historic site since 1991, are currently open to the public as the Yoshinogari Historical Park.


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