Rare find of Edo Period ruins in Lake Biwako

posted on November 6, 2015

Archaeologists have discovered late Edo Period (1603-1867) ruins of a suspected shrine in Lake Biwako.

The Biwako Suichu Kokogaku Kenkyukai (Lake Biwako underwater archaeology research group) at the University of Shiga Prefecture in Hikone announced the rare find on Nov. 4.

"This is the first time that pillars of an underwater structure have been found so relatively intact," said Hiromichi Hayashi, a professor emeritus of archaeology at the university. "It is an epoch-making discovery in the history of underwater archaeology."

The relics form a hitherto missing section of the Nagahama Castle ruins off the northeastern banks of Biwako, the nation's largest lake.

Due to their unique structure, the researchers said they think the remains may have been a shrine dedicated to a deity that oversaw the castle or local area.

The architecture likely sank into the lake in subsidence caused by a major earthquake, the archaeologists said, as the ruins are located in waters deeper than those recorded in contemporary documents.

Carbon dating of the pillars and earthquake records show that the building probably descended to the lake floor following a magnitude-7.2 tremor that struck the region in 1819.

The same earthquake is believed to have caused stones of the Naoesengen ruins to sink 4 meters below the surface of Lake Biwako, 250 meters off the city of Maibara, south of Nagahama.

source by asahi
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