Problems of Archaeology, Ethnography, Anthropology of
Siberia and Neighboring Territories

ISSN 2658-6193 (Online)

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2019 Volume XXV

DOI: 10.17746/2658-6193.2019.25.368-374

УДК 903.53

Identification of Social Status and Gender of the Persons Buried in the Burial Mounds of the Kofun Period (3rd-7th Century AD) on the Territory of the Japanese Archipelago

Gnezdilova I.S.

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As opposed to the previous Yayoi period, the tradition of funerals in burial mounds spread throughout the entire territory of the Japanese Archipelago during the Kofun period (3rd-7th centuries AD), testifying to the emergence of a single funerary tradition on a vast area. In the Kofun period, the attempts were made to unite the lands under a single authority, and social strata with the separate ruling class emerged. These processes were reflected in the construction and size of burial mounds. This article discusses the main external markers for identifying the social status of a person buried in a barrow, including the size and shape of the burial structure and its additional elements. There are still some problems regarding specific gender aspects in the funeral tradition of the Kofun period. The burial complexes of the Kofun period on the territory of the Japanese Archipelago have their own specific features, including poor preservation of anthropological evidence and diverse nature of funeral inventory. Japanese scholars have analyzed the results of archaeological research from the burials with the surviving anthropological evidence which made it possible to establish the gender of the deceased, and have identified the types of funeral objects associated exclusively with female or male burials. The article presents the overview of the studies by Japanese scholars on determining the gender of the persons buried in the barrows, main stages of research into the problem, and its current state. Specific features of funeral inventory depending on the sex of the buried are presented. The shape and size of the burial mound reflected the status of the person and do not provide information about the gender. The evidence from the Mukonoda kofun (the city of Uto, Kumamoto Prefecture) is used as example of a female burial.


Japanese Archipelago, kofun, burials, burial inventory

17, Аkademika Lavrentieva prosp., Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences