A composite image showing the tomb (left) and the mirror and sword (right). Courtesy of Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture Kyodo.

2-Meter-Long Sword Found in 4th Century Japanese Tomb

Researchers have uncovered a 2.3-meter-long iron sword along with the largest bronze mirror in Japan.


The discovery of the artifacts was made in a late fourth-century burial mound located in the western city of Nara. The find is of great historical value, and according to experts, both artifacts can be classified as national treasures. The mirror excavated from the tomb is a unique, first-of-a-kind object shaped like a shield. Experts reveal that the massive sword was crafted in the Doku style, characterized by its unique serpentine blade. Furthermore, it is the largest iron sword crafted in that period from East Asia. So far, archeologists reported having excavated more than 80 similar swords, all of which were offerings to the deceased, but never have they found a sword that is over 85 centimeters in length.

A unique mirror

The mirror found by experts isn’t small by any means. Measurements of the object reveal it measures 64 centimeters in length, 31 centimeters in width, and has a weight of 5.7 kilograms. The design of the mirror bears unique markings. According to experts, the patterned surface bears the designs of two more common ‘daryu’ mirrors. These are distinguished by their designs based on imaginative creatures found mainly in the west of Japan.

What this means

Kosaku Okabayashi, deputy director of the Kashihara Archaeological Institute, explained that the discovers point to the fact that the technology of the Kofun period (300-710 AD) is beyond what had been imagined and are masterpieces in metallurgy from that period. In other words, both objects are extremely valuable. Naohiro Toyoshima, a professor of archeology at Nara University, explained that the sword and shield-shaped mirror might indicate that the individual was involved in military and ritual affairs. “They were considered tools to protect the dead from evil spirits. In fact, it is believed that the sword was extended in length to increase its power,” Toyoshima explained.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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