Ancient Moat in Japan May Be Part of Royal Tomb
Archaeologists think it dates back to 7th century
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2015 4:49 PM CST
A drawing of Emperor Tenji. The newly discovered moat is believed to have been part of the burial site of his father, Emperor Jomei.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – Archaeologists in Japan have found the remains of an ancient moat that may have once guarded an emperor's tomb. They made the discovery in Asuka, and researchers think the moat was part of the burial site of a seventh-century emperor named Jomei who died in the year 641, reports Japan News. The section of the moat uncovered is about 55 yards long, 13 to 23 feet wide, and 3 feet deep, and it was lined with rocks of various sizes. One slope has flagstones arranged in a staircase pattern, reports the Asahi Shimbun.

"The finding adds to a string of fascinating discoveries in the small village of Asuka, from pyramid-like structures to multiple carved granite stones in peculiar shapes dotted across the region," observes the website Ancient Origins. The site is believed to be the largest burial ground of its era in what is now Nara Prefecture. A local archaeological official says it was probably the original grave of Jomei before his body was transferred elsewhere at a later date. Two of his sons, Tenji and Tenmu, went on to become more famous emperors, notes the Asahi Shimbun. (A dig in Northern Ireland also yielded an archaeological treasure.)