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Archaeology [Chapter 1] Archaeology at Kokugakuin University

The study of archaeology at Kokugakuin began in 1910 when Tsuboi Shōgorō of Tokyo Imperial University taught a course on anthropology. From the following year, Takahashi Kenji of the Tokyo Imperial Museum taught a course on the topic of archaeology. Then in 1923, anthropologist Torii Ryūzō was appointed as professor. Professor Torii Ryūzō went on to start a research group for the study of ancient culture in 1926. This research group fostered the development of study of both archaeology and anthropology, and it continues to the present day as the Kokugakuin Society for the Study of Archaeology. After Torii retired, professors Kumezō Tuboi, Shūichi Gotō, and Kiyoyuki Higuchi continued the study of archaeology. Scholars including the folklorist Shinobu Origuchi and the Shintō Historian Naokazu Miyaji contributed to the further development of archaeology at Kokugakuin. Inspired by the work of these and others, professor Iwao Ōba worked to develop the field of Shintō archaeology. This area of research has become synonymous with Kokugakuin University itself. In 1928, professor Kiyoyuki Higuchi donated his collection of archaeological artifacts to the university, and these were placed on display in the forerunner of the current museum.

-The Study of Archaeology-

Archaeology is a method of historical study that provides a view of human history from before the development of written language through the period when the first stone and metal epigraphs began to appear and even through later ages in which written materials became more abundant. Concretely, archaeology takes as its object of study material remains, relics, and ruins. Archaeology is an attempt to understand changes over time and accross geographic region in order to investigate the historical significance of the remains of material culture. Because archaeology relies on the preservation of remnants of the past, archaeology excavations must always be conducted in such a way as to avoid damaging the material objects under investigation.

-Measuring the Ages-

Archaeology starts with the attempt to assign correct dates to the excavated items. For that reason, earthenware, ceramics, and porcelain are ideal resources for archaeologists. Setting the earliest stone-age pottery aside, we can see pottery in every age continuously from the Jōmon period to today. The dating of pottery, however, is always relative. It is invariably based on an examination of differences in form and patterns on the archaeological items. Scientific testing for dates to assign to artifacts and consulting written records (when available) are also important to the dating process.