24 September 2023 The Future is the Product of the Past

Artifacts found in Japan could be prototypes of ninja weapons

Artifacts discovered in the ruins of structures associated with warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s 1590 Siege of Odawara may be prototypes of ninja weapons.

The flat stones and clay balls may well have been the forerunners of “shuriken” throwing stars and “makibishi” caltrops that later made up ninja arsenals, Akihiro Iwata, archaeologist and curator at the Saitama Prefectural Ranzan History Museum, told Asahi.

The term shuriken actually covers a multitude of throwing weapons employed by the Ninja. The skilled ninja would use a Shuriken as a distraction or secondary attack rather than a means to kill or disable their foe.

The caltrop is referred to as Makibishi in Japanese. The weapon (igadama) is a sharp spiked item that was used to slow down pursuers and defend samurai fortresses in medieval Japan. Makibishi could also be thrown like a shuriken.

After re-examining artifacts from the late Warring States era (late 15th to late 16th centuries) unearthed at archaeological sites in Saitama and Hachioji in western Tokyo, Iwata came to this conclusion.

Clay caltrops unearthed at the ruins of Hachioji Castle. They are kept by the Hachioji City Historical Museum. Photo: Saitama Prefectural Ranzan Historical Museum
Clay caltrops unearthed at the ruins of Hachioji Castle. They are kept by the Hachioji City Historical Museum. Photo: Saitama Prefectural Ranzan Historical Museum

Between the 1990s and 2000s, flat throwing stones with sharpened corners were discovered at the ruins of Iwatsuki Castle and the Owada jin’ya administrative headquarters in Saitama, both in Saitama.

A hexagonal stone from the Iwatsuki Castle ruins measured 4.8 centimeters in diameter and 1 cm thick, while 17 stones from the Owada jinya measured 8 to 14 cm in diameter and 1.5 to 3 cm thick.

The Siege of Odawara forced the rival Hojo clan to hole up in Iwatsuki Castle before it fell. The Owada jinya, located about 6.5 kilometers away, may have been its branch castle.

Edo period shuriken in Odawara Castle Museum, Japan. Photo: Wikipedia
Edo period shuriken in Odawara Castle Museum, Japan. Photo: Wikipedia

Four unglazed clay balls were among items excavated at the ruins of Hachioji Castle around 1960.

Each ball, measuring approximately 1 to 3 cm in diameter, has four spike-like projections so that one of them points upward, apparently to slow the advance of enemy forces.

Hachioji Castle also fell during the Siege of Odawara.

“It is possible that the Hojo clan made these getaway weapons after realizing it faced Hideyoshi’s overwhelming force,” Iwata said.

Japanese "makibishi" iron spikes, a type of caltrop
Japanese “makibishi” iron spikes, a type of caltrop. Photo: Wikipedia

He added that the forms of these primitive tools suggest that they may have been the prototypes of shuriken and other weapons used by the feudal-era undercover agents.

Yuji Yamada, a ninja expert and professor at Mie University’s Faculty of Humanities, described the artifacts as “groundbreaking discoveries.”

“Flat throwing stones could have developed into shuriken in later years,” he said. “I had never seen clay caltrops before.”

Cover Photo: Saitama Prefectural Ranzan Historical Museum

Banner
Related Post

Ancient Christian Settlement Discovered in Egypt

14 March 2021

14 March 2021

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said on Saturday that a French-Norwegian archaeological team had discovered a new ancient Christian settlement...

Medieval Hub of Arts & Crafts Center discovered in Nola: The discovery could rewrite the history of early medieval Nola

23 August 2023

23 August 2023

On the outskirts of Nola, a district from the early Middle Ages has been discovered. According to the Soprintendenza Archeologia,...

Scientists reconstruct Late Bronze and Iron Age Mediterranean silver trade

11 July 2021

11 July 2021

Scientists have recreated the Eastern Mediterranean silver trade across a time span that includes the conventional dates of the Trojan...

Egypt’s Tanis bronze figurines shed light on ancient commerce

19 July 2021

19 July 2021

A research team told that the newly discovered 3,000-year-old bronze figurines recently unearthed in Tanis, Egypt, can answer questions about...

New insight into the history of human presence in Paveh county, Kermanshah province, which is located in western Iran

22 August 2021

22 August 2021

Stone tools and animal bones unearthed recently have thrown new insight into the history of human presence in Paveh county,...

Stonehenge could be a solar calendar, according to a new study

2 March 2022

2 March 2022

A new study posits that the Stonehenge circles served as a calendar that tracks the solar year of 365.25 days,...

Britain’s Longest Ancient Monument ‘Offa’s Dyke’ to be Restored

21 June 2021

21 June 2021

Offa’s Dyke is a long, linear earthwork that roughly parallels the English-Welsh boundary. Offa is also known as the longest...

Evidence found of Goose domestication in Neolithic China 7,000 years ago

8 March 2022

8 March 2022

Geese may have been domesticated in what is now China as early as 7,000 years ago, according to a study...

A 2000-year-old Rare Artifact was Found Near Poltava

25 May 2021

25 May 2021

Scarab beetle pendant found near the Ukrainian city of Poltava. During the building of the H-31 motorway in the Poltava...

Scientists discover 4 new Nazca Geoglyphs using AI deep learning

4 June 2023

4 June 2023

Scientists from Japan used AI deep learning to discover new geoglyphs in the Arid Peruvian coastal plain, in the northern...

Mine-clearance divers discovered an ancient shipwreck dating from the 3rd century BC

25 June 2023

25 June 2023

As a result of collaborative training exercises between Croatian and Italian naval mine-clearance divers, one of the earliest fully preserved...

Archaeologists reconstructing how the Assyrian army conquered the ancient Judean city of Lachish 2700 years ago

9 November 2021

9 November 2021

Archaeologists discovered how King Sennacherib’s soldiers constructed the huge siege ramp that enabled them to defeat the Lachish city 2,700...

Rare bronze hand discovered in Roman Vindolanda, England

11 July 2023

11 July 2023

One of Europe’s most important Roman archeological sites is the Fort of Vindolanda, one of the earliest Roman garrisons built...

An archaeological dig at Govan Old Churchyard revealed a remarkable new find: an early medieval ‘Govan Warrior’ stone

19 September 2023

19 September 2023

An archaeological excavation in the churchyard at Govan Old Parish Church in Glasgow, a port city on the River Clyde...

A rare Ogham inscription found on Pictish stone in Scottish Kirkyard

8 November 2022

8 November 2022

A Pictish carved stone cross slab with a rare inscription in the early medieval ogham language has been discovered in...

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *