Stonehenge exhibition highlights similarities between ancient British and Japanese culture | Exhibitions

TThe treasures on display range from the astonishing variety—a 5,000-year-old cooking pot decorated with a ceramic representation of a dancing flame—to the intriguing, such as mushroom models that might suggest ancient makers were interested in the mind-altering properties of fungi.

Gathered in an exhibition room in StonehengeAbout 80 pieces were made in Japan during jomon The time period, around the same time the great stone circle was built at Salisbury Plain, highlight some Deceptive similarity between two cultures separated by thousands of miles.

exhibition, Stone Circles: Stonehenge and Prehistoric Japanreveals that prehistoric people in southern Britain and Japan made great efforts to build stone circles, and seem to have marked and celebrated the passage of the sun and felt moved to meet together in festivals or rituals.

“Of course they could have had no idea what the others were doing,” said Martin Alfrey, chief trustee of English Heritage. But it is interesting to look at what these extraordinary things from Japan tell us about the similarities between these societies that may have been closer ideologically than one might imagine. Exploring what is happening elsewhere in the prehistoric world is the key to understanding the importance of Stonehenge. “

At a time when the builders of Stonehenge were making the monument, their Japanese counterparts were coming together to create sites such as the stone circles at Oyo in the north Japan. These do not feature the kind of massive standing stones that Stonehenge is famous for, but rather large circles made of thousands of river pebbles. Like Stonehenge, they seem to be lined up to denote the winter solstices.

This bowl of flame is over 5000 years old
Miao Toru, curator of the Niigata Prefecture History Museum (right), with a 5,000-year-old Jōmon cooking pot. Photography: James Davies/James Davies/English Heritage

The star of the show at Stonehenge is jomon cooking pot that Simon Kanner, Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and CulturesHe made it clear that he was going to be set on fire jomon Residence near the chinano river. He pointed to the black markings that it was probably used to make fish broth. “Imagine that you are sitting around the fireplace while a meal is over at this place. It must have cast an unusual shadow. This is the first time the pot has been shown outside of Japan.

Finds made in Japanese stone circles indicate that people gathered on holidays and honored their ancestors, Just like the people who built Stonehenge. The scale of their creativity meant that both the ancient British and the Japanese had to be able to bring together large numbers of people to collaborate on ambitious and important projects.

japan dojo mask
Japan the dog Clay figurines found in Jomon settlements may have been used in fertility or healing rituals. Photo: English Heritage

Geography may have something to do with parallels. The United Kingdom and Japan align the landmass of Eurasia at approximately the same latitude, which means that they have similar climates and natural resources, to which both peoples have exploited and adapted.

However, there are objects on display in the gallery found in Japan unlike any other at Stonehenge, such as a mushroom, a model of what appears to be a bear, delicate pieces of jewelry, and an object pierced into it. It appears to represent numbers.

Portions of . also appeared dogclay figurines found in jomon Stone settlements and circles may have represented land deities or spirits and were used in fertility or healing rituals. It is believed that a lot dog It was deliberately broken and scattered during the festivities.

teddy bear picture
A small bear was found carved into the stone circles of Isedotai. Photo: English Heritage

Kaner and Allfrey agree that this does not mean that Japanese builders were more advanced than their counterparts at Stonehenge – after all, the Neolithic people of Wiltshire built a very sophisticated monument. “Things like this may have been created here but we haven’t found them yet,” Alfre said.

The exhibition also explores more modern connections between Stonehenge and Japan, including the art of Japanese woodblock printer Yoshigeru Urushibara who worked in Britain in the 1920s and British archaeologist William Goland.

Gowland was employed by the Japanese government at the end of the 19th century and in his spare time he investigated archaeological sites. On his return to the United Kingdom, he was assigned to assist with restoration work at Stonehenge, reported what he had learned in Japan, and put forward the theory, now accepted, as being older than previously thought.

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