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"BEyond ARCHAEOlogy”: how European and Japanese archaeological and archaeometric teams will join their efforts to get new and accurate insight into Kofun Proto-History
1 - On February 21st, 2019, the President of Okayama University, Professor H. Makino, welcomed a large delegation of European and Japanese archaeologists and archaeometric researchers from a wide variety of disciplines, ranging from Structural Physics, Chemistry, Petrology to Biology of Plants and Metabolomics. The aim of their visit was to kick-off a EU-JP joint project expected to go beyond archaeology and bringing the Past to present day societies trough an innovative and transdisciplinary approach. The RISE scheme of Marie Skłodowska-Curie's Actions of the EU Research and Innovation Framework Program Horizon 2020, which funds this project (EUR 708.400), promotes international and cross-sector collaboration through exchanging research and innovation staff and sharing knowledge and ideas from research to market and vice-versa.
The kick-off meeting took place at the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences on the Tsushima Campus under the auspices of the European Commission represented by Dr. Gediminas Ramanauskas, First Counsellor, Head of Science, Innovation, Digital and Other EU Policies Section of the EU Delegation to Japan. In his welcome address President Makino emphasized the increasing commitment of Okayama University to international scientific collaboration. Noting the benefits of collaborating with the EU scientists, he assigned an important role to the Division of University's Research Administrators (URA) in promoting and activating international research. In his welcome address Dr. Ramanauskas emphasized that international cooperation in scientific research is a major priority of the EU Research and Innovation Framework Program Horizon 2020 and an important tool of the EU's foreign policy. He mentioned that the RISE scheme is very popular in Japan with more than 60 participations of Japanese entities since the beginning of Horizon 2020 program in 2014. Dr. Ramanauskas congratulated two Japanese and six European partners of BE-ARCHAEO, thanked Okayama University and the board of Education of Shimane prefecture for their central role and pointed out that this interdisciplinary and challenging project has an excellent potential to turn creative ideas into innovative solutions
At the end of the kick-off meeting the consortium members signed Consortium and Partnership agreements.
The BE-ARCHAEO project is a 4-year duration major feature of the new Center for Research on the Dynamics of Civilizations which had been opened on October 1st, 2018. Both events were honored by the presence of Okayama Prefecture governor, Mr. R. Ibaraki who delivered an address at the opening of the Symposium. President Makino also addressed greetings to the event.
Why is BE-ARCHAEO focused on the Kofun period project?
The BE-ARCHAEO main goal is basically to set-up and test an innovative and interdisciplinary methodology to reconstruct on strictly scientific grounds the funeral rituals and social behaviors of the kofun period. If successful the methodology could then be extended to other Japanese historical periods BE-ARCHAEO is focused on the Kofun period: archaeologists will excavate the Tobiotsuka Kofun, dated approximately late 6th –early 7th century AD and located in Soja City, Okayama Prefecture. (an Interactive map is available is the "CONTACT" section of bearchaeo.com).
The Kofun period (古墳時代 Kofun jidai) is an era in the history of Japan from about 250 to 646 AD, following the Yayoi period. The word Kofun is Japanese for the mounded tombs dating from this era. Litterally it means old mounded tomb. This period is the earliest era of recorded history in Japan, but studies depend heavily on archaeology since the chronology of historical sources tends to be distorted.
It was a period of intense cultural import. Continuing from the Yayoi period, the Kofun
period is characterized by a strong influence from the Korean Peninsula and China
While the shape and size of kofun is unique, prestige goods, weapons and horse trappings found from kofun show similarities to those in the Korean Peninsula, suggesting a close interaction among elites.
Buddhism and the Chinese writing system were introduced near the end of the period.
Originalities, key concepts and challenging features of BE-ARCHAEO
Be-Archaeo interdisciplinary team will face challenges along two main and very powerful directions: i) to develop a less invasive and less intrusive methodology to deal with Japanese heritage concerning both archaeological excavation and laboratory analysis; ii) to develop IT to communicate to vast audiences the trajectory of human societies in the Past particularly during the Kofun period that will be presented in the final exhibitions.
Cultural heritage as key-driver for economic competitiveness and growth
In a globalized world Cultural heritage is revealing itself as a powerful tool to reinforce identities (national, regional or even local) being at the same time a very important economic resource considering touristic development of different areas. To fulfil this goal Cultural heritage should be not only preserved but also translated and presented to the public in an innovative way.
1. The all project is indeed an immense challenge. It is an absolute pioneering project since Tobiotsuka Kofun will be the first to be excavated by a Japanese-European team. Establishing common grounds is mandatory for simple issues as dress code in the archaeological site of about 30m diameter to major topics as what, where, and how to excavate a Kofun or to sample archaeological materials.
The examination of the rich accumulation of archaeological materials already excavated, will aim to produce a more comprehensive inquiry on social dynamics in the Japanese past and to assess links with European social complexity, as it emerges from Europe’s archaeological records.
2. Organise 175months of mobility to Japan: efficient logistics management is required
3. Moreover, BE-ARCHAEO will focus on an aspect that is forgotten in most digital heritage projects (such as the European cultural platform), i.e.: the scientifically rigorous (although engaging) visualisation and storytelling of scientific data, both online and in museums.
The project will make archaeometric research relevant for both a scholarly and general audience, and this is an important enrichment of the European research and innovation potential.
A multi-skills consortium
The BE-ARCHAEO consortium is exceptionally rich as it puts together a range of skills issued from different fields: academic, private companies, museums.
Making work of such a large group successful and harmonious is a challenge especially because different fields and cultural influences need to coexist.
Specific focus on European SME - SME motivations and objectives
BE-ARCHAEO partners - either Universities or SME – shared common goals, created knowledge, develop highly effective and less destructive methodologies towards cultural heritage and communicate to a vast audience the experience of distant societies.
For the University of Turim, University of Lisbon, University of Okayama and IRIAE the circulation of students, researchers and professors is always a core issue within research projects considering the production of Knowledge as a common and shared task for all.
As SME, TecN-Art, Visual Dimension and Terra Marine considered BE-ARCHAEO a great challenged since they will be able to apply and develop innovative methodologies in a high-profile technological environment as is Japan.
At the same time the advertisement provided by BE-ARCHAEO SMEs will be a good asset to promote their activities in Japan. Those SME will be also responsible for the development of BE-ARCHAEO methodologies apply to archaeological excavations, to museum studies and to public exhibitions allowing than to enter the Japanese market of cultural industries and heritage.
2 final Exhibitions (2022) where BE-ARCHAEO outcomes are expected to be on display in 2 major Museums:
*** Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo - Shimane Prefecture on the Japan
*** Museo d’Arte Orientale (MAO – Museum of Oriental Art) in Torino, Italy - https://www.maotorino.it/ -
From Feb-26th - to June 16th MAO proposes an exhibition of YAKUSHA stamps
Tight collaboration will be set-up between museologists at Torino University and at Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo and Museo d’Arte Orientale, in Turim in order to create in 2022 the BE-ARCHAEO final exhibition where archaeological and archaeometric data will be combined trough IT to create a story around Japanese History.
Promoting BE-ARCHAEO outcomes by performing smart dissemination, communication and developing lively Web site is another aim of this project. BE-ARCHAEO is also committed to go Beyond… strictly academic worlds using social networks, documentaries and interactive museum exhibitions to enhance public entanglement with Archaeological Heritage and the long and amazing History of human societies.