In this month’s article, we are showcasing two important ancient ruins located within the city limits. In Hakata Ward, the Kanenokuma Remains was a communal graveyard built in a long and narrow hilly area along the Mikasa River. We know that it was used for about 400 years from the middle of the Early Yayoi period to the Late Yayoi period (2nd century BC~2nd century AD). Excavations of the site have unearthed 348 jar coffin graves, 119 hole-shaped graves, two stone coffin graves and the bones of 136 bodies.
The area has been turned into the Kanenokuma Remains Park. In 1985, the excavation pit was covered with a structure to create an exhibition hall where you can see the numerous jar coffins, other artifacts and human bones that were unearthed. The burial goods include a bracelet made of Sinustrombus latissimus, a species of sea snail that exists only in the seas between Tanegashima and Australia, which indicates that there was trade between mainland China and maritime Southeast Asia at that time.
Meanwhile, the Nokata Ruins in Nishi Ward are the remains of a large village dating back to Late Yayoi period (2nd century) to the Early Kofun period (3rd~4th century). This was an enclosed settlement surrounded by a series of earthen fortifications, the largest being an oval with a major axis of about 100 meters and containing about 10 pit dwellings within its walls. The smaller fortifications were rectangular, measuring 25~30 m per side, and this is where scholars believe stilt warehouses were built to store grains and other items.
As time passed, the village grew to encompass more than 100 pit dwellings, and jar coffin graves and stone coffin graves have been found on the outskirts of the settlement. The area is now part of Nokata Chuo Park, and an exhibition hall where you can view the remains of dwellings and excavated artifacts has been open to the public since 1992. After years of wear and tear at both Kanenokuma and Nokata, the remains underwent preservation work, and the exhibition facilities were renovated and reopened in 2019.