Saturday 3 March, 2012
As part of our collaboration with the Japanese Section at the Department of Asia at the British Museum, a team of Japanese archaeologists are undertaking a comprehensive survey of the Gowland Collection of Kofun period materials at the British Museum. William Gowland was one of the foreign experts (oyatoi gaikokujin) employed by the government of Meiji Japan. He worked in the Osaka Mint from 1872 to 1888. As well as being credited with naming the Japanese Alps, Gowland also investigated over 400 kofun in the area around Osaka, including the Shibayama kofun which he meticulously excavated. The collection he brought back from Japan when he returned to Britain, and the extensive accompanying archive was acquired by the British Museum by Augustus Woollaston Franks. A workshop was held at the British Museum on 3 March 2012 at which the preliminary results of the survey were presented and set in the context of current research on the later Kofun period.
The team is lead by Professor Ichinose Kazuo (Kyoto Tachibana University), and includes specialists on later Kofun archaeology (Professor Hishida Tetsuo, Kyoto Prefectural University; Professor Morishita Shoji, Otemae University; and Tomiyama Naoto, Kobe City Museum. This survey will result in the Gowland Collection and archive being publicly accessible through the British Museum’s website.
Image: Gowland standing in the main burial chamber of one of Tsukahara Kofun group mound. © Trustees of the British Museum