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The Past & Future of Waseda Archaeology

Daisuke Mochida, Research Associate
Waseda University Aizu Museum

The Aizu Museum is located on the Building No. 2, which is directly in front of the bronze statue of Shigenobu Okuma on the Waseda Campus. The museum has exhibits in the departments of Oriental Art, Modern Art, and Archaeology. Each one of the departments conducts a special exhibition once per year. This spring, the Archaeology Department is conducting a special exhibition entitled "The Past & Future of Waseda Archaeology".

In recent years, a variety of students and visitors to the museum seem to be aware that research studies in archaeology are actively performed at Waseda University. Perhaps this is due to the archaeological dig in Egypt often being featured on television and other media. Actually, the history of archaeology at Waseda University began long ago. In 1882 (the 15th year of the Meiji Era), archaeologist E.S. Morse was invited by Shigenobu Okuma to speak at the opening ceremony of Tokyo Senmon Gakko, which was the precursor of Waseda University. Mr. Morse was famous for the survey conducted at the Omori shell mounds site (Shingawa City to Ota City in Tokyo), which is referred to as the origin of Japanese archaeology. Also in the Meiji Era, a lecture was given by Professor Shogoro Tsuboi of Tokyo Imperial University, who was a pioneer in archaeology and anthropology. Professor Tsuboi was well known for discovering Yayoi-period pottery in Yayoi-cho, Hongo, Tokyo, as well as for performing the first academic dig at kofun burial mounds in Japan. Furthermore, a record of the lectures was published in 1907 (the 40th year of the Meiji Era) as "Discussions in Anthropology" (Waseda Popular Lecture Series, Volume 11).

Furthermore, a number of researchers were active in the Showa Era before World War II. These researchers include Yaichi Aizu, whose work pertained to Oriental art and who is the namesake of the museum, anthropologist Shinji Nishimura, and Oriental historian Ugenji Sadakane. These researchers provided guidance for the people who supported archaeology at Waseda after the end of the war. Oriental art materials collected by Yaichi Aizu are currently stored in the Aizu Museum. The archaeological materials collected by Nishimura and Sadakane were stored in the materials room of the former Onshi Museum, which was located where Building No. 7 currently stands. However, due to the aerial bombings which took place in May of 1945, these materials and the Onshi Museum were reduced to ashes by the fire of war.

The Path of Waseda Archaeology after World War II

Photograph 1: Earthenware vessel excavated from Okitsu shell mounds in Ibaraki Prefecture.

After the end of World War II, Waseda Archaeology undertook a large number of surveys and research projects. At the center of these efforts was the "Archaeological Institute", an organization composed of volunteer professors, students, and alumni from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the School of Education. These volunteers included Professor Kazuchika Komai, Professor Hiroshi Takiguchi and Professor Masae Nishimura. In particular, immediately after defeat in the war until the 1960s, surveys were conducted in a wide range of regions. These regions included Kanto and Tohoku, as well as the more distant regions of Kyushu and Hokkaido, and even extended to the Yaeyama Islands in America-occupied Okinawa.

During this period, Waseda performed a large number of surveys, from academically-oriented surveys to highly-urgent surveys which accompanied development. These surveys took place before the organization of departments in the public groups of each region to oversee surveys for buried cultural artifacts. This period is when Waseda archaeology began to develop, with surveys ranging from those conducted by volunteer students to those which received aid from prefectures and local municipalities.

Photograph 2: Relics excavated from the Mashiko Tennozuka shell mounds in Tochigi Prefecture.

The exhibition features materials which introduce the special characteristics of a variety of periods. Included are surveys of the Jomon Period that include the Kayama (Kanagawa) and Nishi-no-Jo (Chiba) shell mounds from early in the period, as well the Hasedo and Sugi-no-Do shell mounds (both located in Iwate) from late in the period (Photograph 1). Also introduced from the Kofun Period is the Kita-no-Saku I (Chiba) tomb from early in the period, the Kashiyama (Miyazaki) tomb from the middle of the period, and the Mashiko Tennozuka tomb from later in the period. Also featured in the exhibition are ancient kawara tiles of Musashi-Kokubunji Temple and Kazusa-Kokubunji Temple, as well as artifacts of the Ainu people (the Tosabayashi Collection) which were donated to the museum.

The Mashiko Tennozuka mound is located in Mashiko Town, Tochigi Prefecture. The mound was studied in a 1954 survey led by Hiroshi Takiguchi and including participation by Tetsuzo Kubo, who later became a Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. The Mashiko Tennozuka mound is a keyhole-shaped burial mound from the late Kofun Period (6th century). A total of three surveys for this mound revealed a rich variety of archaeological findings such as armor, equestrian trappings made of gold and bronze, and swords with ring-shaped hilts. These findings show the power held by regional chiefs in the late 6th century and are the subject of great attention (Photograph 2). Most of these materials are normally displayed in the museum's permanent collection, but the special exhibition this spring also features items which are not normally displayed.

Photograph 3: Shimototsuka Ruins and excavated earthenware vessel (the rear of the ruins is Buildings No. 15 and 16).

In addition to surveys which are held outside of the university, there have also been many surveys held within the grounds of Waseda University. In particular, from the 1980s and later, surveys for buried cultural artifacts were held in conjunction with the development of the Tokorozawa, Honjo, Higashi-Fushimi, and Waseda Campuses.

For example is the Center for Scholarly Information (Library and International Conference Center) on the Waseda Campus. The center is located on the site of the former Abe Stadium, which is where the "final Waseda-Keio baseball game" was once held. In 1987, a survey for buried cultural artifacts was held in conjunction with the construction of the Center for Scholarly Information and Waseda University Library. This survey revealed the existence of the Shimototsuka Ruins (Photograph 3). These ruins are of a village that prospered during the late Yayoi Period (2nd to 3rd century) and is believed to be one of the largest moat-encircled villages that existed within the area that is now Tokyo.

From Japanese archaeology to global archaeology

Photograph 4: Fragments of painted staircase from the Kom El-Samak Ruins in southern Malqata (Waseda University Institute of Egyptology collection)

When discussing Waseda archaeology, one cannot omit the survey conducted in Egypt. This survey is often the feature of reporting on television and in newspapers. Waseda University's survey of Egypt began with an exploration conducted in 1966. In 1971, under the leadership of Professor Yoshikazu Kawamura, an excavation survey was conducted at the southern Malqata Ruins of Luxor West-Bank. This excavation survey led to the discovery of a painted staircase at the Kom El-Samak Ruins in 1974. Since then, a number of surveys have continued uninterrupted and are still being continued even today. The exhibition features memorable relics excavated from the southern Malqata Ruins.

Photograph 5: Brass rubbing "Priest and Priestess Making Offerings to the Deceased" from the Palenque Ruins (Sekine collection)

Currently, Waseda's overseas surveys include not only Egypt but also China, the Korean Peninsula, Southeast Asia, Central America, and Papua New Guinea. Waseda researchers and students travel throughout the world to conduct exploration and surveys. Together with a panel introducing these surveys, the exhibit features precious brass rubbings (Photograph 5) that were donated to the museum from Mayan ruins in Palenque, Central America. Also exhibited is bronze ware donated to the museum from Southeast Asia and China.

The current state of Waseda archaeology

As described above, Waseda archaeology has continued unceasingly since its conception. However, the establishment of academic majors and special courses in archaeology has taken place surprisingly recently. An Archaeology Major was established in the Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences in 1976, and an Archaeology Major was established in the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I in 1984. This year, these schools have greeted milestones of 33 years and 25 years, or of one-third and one-quarter of a century. In the Archaeology Major of the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I (current the Archaeology Major of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences), students gain practical surveying experience by performing excavation at the Yomogita Ruins in Aomori Prefecture and the Tate-Ishino I Ruins in Iwate Prefecture, as well as location surveys at the group of Tsukamoto-Yama Ruins on the Honjo Campus in Saitama Prefecture. Students have also published academic survey reports.

In recent years, a total of 5 surveys have been conducted at the To-no-Uchi shell mounds in Inba Village, Chiba Prefecture. The spring exhibition also features the latest news from the To-no-Uchi mound, gathered by graduate and undergraduate students who were part of the survey.

Since I introduced Waseda archaeology in chronological order in this article, my introduction of eras and regions has been out of order. The main feature of the spring exhibition is the gathering of a great amount of material in one exhibition space. Included is an introduction to Waseda archaeology, Japanese archaeology from the Jomon, Yayoi and Kofun Periods and ancient times, and materials relating to the Ainu people. Also included is archaeology from China, Southeast Asia, Mayan Central America and Egypt, overseas areas in which Waseda specializes. I hope that this exhibition provides an opportunity to lean about archaeology through contact with actual materials. I hope that the exhibition is viewed by many different people, from students visiting Waseda on school trips to anyone who wishes to learn more about archaeology.

Also, during the term of the exhibition, the 75th General Conference of the Japanese Archaeological Association will be held at Waseda University on May 30th and 31st. This is the largest academic conference of archaeologists in Japan. In conjunction with this conference, we have decided to open the Aizu Museum on Sunday, May 31st. We have received some complaints that regular closing of the museum on Sundays is inconvenient, so I hope that everyone will take this opportunity to experience Waseda archaeology.

Also, beginning from this year, a portion of the cases which house the Aizu Museum's permanent collection will be used to conduct special exhibitions. Currently, the Archaeology Department is holding an exhibition entitled "Ancient Bronze Mirrors" in conjunction with the spring exhibition. I hope that visitors will enjoy both exhibitions together.

Exhibition: The Path & Future Visions of Waseda Archaeology

Period: May 12th (Tuesday) to June 6th (Saturday)
Museum closed on Sundays & Holidays. Museum open on May 31st (Sunday).
Hours: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Free admission.
Location: Waseda University Aizu Museum, 1st Floor Exhibition Room

Featured Exhibition: Ancient Bronze Mirrors

Period: April 1st (Wednesday) to June 6th (Saturday)
Location: Waseda University Aizu Museum, 2nd Floor Permanent Collection


Waseda University Aizu Museum
1-6-1 Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
TEL: 03-5286-3835

Daisuke Mochida, Research Associate
Waseda University Aizu Museum

Born in Shimane Prefecture in 1979. Completed the Doctoral Program at the Waseda University Faculty of Letters, Arts, and Science with a major in history (archaeology). Specialty in Japanese archaeology.