Kofun After the Kofun Period: Biographies of Ancient Burial Mounds in Japan

Third Thursday Lecture - Sainsbury Institute

Thursday 20 September, 2012
6:00pm BST

Nowich Cathedral Hostry (Weston Room), Norwich NR1 4DH


Akira Matsuda (Lecturer in Japanese Artistic Heritage, University of East Anglia, Academic Associate, Sainsbury Institute)

About the Lecture

There are approximately 160,000 identified kofun, or ancient burial mounds built from the 3rd to the first half of the 7th century CE (Kofun period), in Japan. The archaeology of kofun is often considered a key to understanding the state formation in Japan and attracts large numbers of Japanese archaeologists specialising in them. While it may seem natural that archaeologists studying kofun are interested in how they were ‘originally’ built and functioned, far less attention has been given to what happened to those mounds after the Kofun period, with the exception of some considered to be the resting places of Emperors. This talk takes a biography approach to several examples of kofun and examines how they were perceived, understood and used in various ways from the post-Kofun period to the very recent past.

About the Speaker

Akira Matsuda is Lecturer in Japanese Artistic Heritage at the School of World Art Studies and Museology, UEA. He was a Handa Japanese Archaeology Fellow at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures from 2009 to 2011. His research interests are in the meaning, (re)presentation, and use of the past in contemporary society. More specifically, he studies the relationship between archaeology – and more broadly cultural heritage – and the general public from anthropological and sociological points of view. Recently, he co-edited a book New Perspectives in Global Public Archaeology (Springer, 2011), and published an article ‘When a local legend is (mis)appropriated in the interpretation of an archaeological site’ in Archaeologies (6(3), pp.447-467, 2010). He is the Membership Secretary of the World Archaeological Congress.

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