Since ancient times, Fukuoka has functioned as a gateway to the Asian continent. Today’s city sits atop several layers of historical ruins. There are over 1,000 historical ruins throughout Fukuoka, and myriad stone and earthenware artifacts have been unearthed from archaeological digs. It is the job of the Fukuoka City Archaeology Center to catalog, restore, preserve and exhibit these artifacts.
The exhibition space on the first floor features displays on excavation work and preservation methods as well as actual artifacts from as far back as 20,000 years up through the medieval period. The Center also uses the space for special events, including exhibits of the latest findings. The second floor is home to the library, where research reports from around Japan and specialized archaeology texts are shelved, and these resources are open to the public.
What’s more impressive is the storeroom, which covers several times the area of the exhibit space and houses more than 10,000 artifacts. For example, there are more than 1,600 kamekan, or earthenware burial urns from the prehistoric Jomon period (14,000 – 300 BC), but only a few are actually on display. It is also equipped with scientific instruments that are used to analyze, preserve and reconstruct artifacts. You can tour the storeroom if you make a reservation in advance.
Another important function of the Center is archaeology education and awareness-raising. Every year, the Center holds eight archeology seminars featuring expert lecturers, and it dispatches staff to give talks at local public halls, elementary and junior high schools. At these talks, the staff use posters to explain excavations taking place in the neighborhoods in question, and they bring actual artifacts that the audience can touch. They also offer workshops on how to make prehistoric-style mirrors and magatama beads, thereby making ancient history up close and personal. Stop by today and experience the Fukuoka of yesteryear for yourself.
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn218, Feb. 2017)