Geba Shūhen:
Kamakura period armor is found near a Hachiman shrine.

Armor in situ

The armor appears to have been stored upside down. Most of the scales were iron, although a small portion of leather scales also survived. There was no helmet, orwaidate (the portion protecting the right side of the torso), shoulder guards, orkote(sleeve).

The image below is an X-ray photo.

Building where the armor was found (from the west)

The largest structure in the excavation precinct at approximately 14.5 m east–west by 5.3 m north–south, pillar base stones and dressed stone remained on the long axis. Recovered items include (1) armor, (2) strings of money, (3) a censer, (4) a flower vase. Items (3) and (4) are ceramics of the first half of the fourteenth century.

Map of the large features

Pit-structures, pits, wells, and so forth were repeatedly dug in the sandy soil. More than 60 pit-structures have been found. Adapted fromHakkutsu sareta Nihon rettō 2014 [Excavations in the Japanese Archipelago, 2014] (Bunkachō [Agency for Cultural Affairs], ed., Asahi Shimbun Publications, 2014).

Agemakitsuke no kanza(fixture attaching a ring to the back of a cuirass, for tying a decorative knot [agemaki ])

Two fixtures were recovered, with a metal plate of a shoulder strap (shōji no ita ) in between. One fixture had a chrysanthemum flower design, and the other a motif of three birds. Post-excavation cleaning revealed gold-plating. Adapted fromHakkutsu sareta Nihon rettō 2014 [Excavations in the Japanese Archipelago, 2014] (Bunkachō [Agency for Cultural Affairs], ed., Asahi Shimbun Publications, 2014).

Geba Shūhen Site, Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture

A group of buildings discovered atop a sand dune

Geba Shūhen is a Medieval site on top of a sand dune located 50 m north of the outermost torii of the Tsuruoka Hachimangū shrine. Numerous pit-structures from the latter half of the Kamakura to the first half of the Muromachi periods (mid-thirteenth–fifteenth centuries) were discovered through excavation. There are buildings of various sizes and structures, including examples with dressed stone lining the floor along the walls, with pillar base stones, and with post holes lined up in rows.

Was armor buried beneath the floor of a building?

Body armor was discovered from a round pit dug down from the floor of the largest of these buildings, an elongated pit-structure (a storehouse?) of the latter half of the Kamakura period (first half of the fourteenth century).

Discoveries of reasonably complete sets of armor are rare, this being only the second example of a find from the Late Heian through the Kamakura periods, after the Hōjūjidono site in Kyoto.

From observations including X-ray photos it is understood that the find consists of pieces from two sets of armor.

Also, from a small pit at the same building 1,896 coins were found tied together in strings. In addition, a flower vase and censer of old Seto ware were recovered from the floor surface.

Are there remains of workshops in the environs?

From other pit-structures and pits, clay molds for casting were recovered, in addition to large amounts of high-fired glazed and unglazed pottery, metal objects, items made from bone, antler, and stone, plus iron slag, animal bones, and so forth. While no remains clearly identifiable as a blacksmithing or other manufacturing site were found within the area of excavation, these materials are thought to indicate the possibility of production sites in the environs. (Ueyama Hidefumi)

(principal artifacts, Geba Shūhen Site)

Clay mold for casting a lion-shaped object

Kamakura–Muromachi periods, fourteenth–first half of the fifteenth centuries.

Width: 4.8 cm.

When material was poured in to take an impression of the surface (photo at left), it was seen to be a lionfs image in high relief, about 2.5 cm tall, 2.8 cm wide, and 1.4 cm deep. Made in fine detail down to the lionfs teeth and the lay of the mane, it is thought to have been a mold for a metal ornament used as a sword fitting, or as decoration on a box or part of a building.

Items made of bone and antler

Kamakura–Muromachi periods, fourteenth–first half of the fifteenth centuries.

(Hairpin at far left) Length: 16.0 cm.

Because the site was on top of a sand dune, ornamental items made of bone and antler such as ear scrapers, hairpins, combs, and so forth survived in good condition. In addition to complete items, large amounts of unfinished objects and waste material from processing were also recovered, and it is thought these goods were being made somewhere in the environs.

Stamps, etc.

Kamakura–Muromachi periods, fourteenth–first half of the fifteenth centuries.

(Item at lower left) Length: 5.7 cm; width 3.7 cm.

Made from soapstone, they are carved with designs such as thewaribishi pattern (four diamonds fitted into a single large diamond), tortoiseshell (hexagonal pattern), chrysanthemum flowers, and grasses. These types of stamps are recovered in numbers from sites in the city of Kamakura, and were perhaps pressed into some kind of soft material. The rightmost item on the bottom appears to be in the form of an animal, but its use is as yet unknown.