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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Lone Wolf And Cub Found Buried In Japan's Pompeii

On December 10, the remains of a Kofun-era warrior and infant were discovered by archaeologists at Japan's Kanai Higashiura site in Shibukawa-shi, Gunma-ken
, evidently killed by a volcanic eruption.

Killed in and around 6th century, the two bodies were covered in a layer of volcanic ash, perhaps buried after the eruption of Harunayama Futatsudake... with other other eruptions in nearby occurring at Kuroimine and Nakasuji, prompting the archaeological team to call the site the 'Pompei of Japan'.

This discovery is important for at least a couple of reasons.

Although there have been many sites in Japan that were buried by volcanic ash, it is the first time human remains from the Kofun-jidai have been found like this.

As well, the 1,400-year-old warrior was found to have been wearing his lamellar suit known as a kozanekō (小札甲) or keikō (挂甲). While some 600 suits have been previously found (in tombs), this is the first time one has been found with the owner wearing it.

If you are like me, you are wondering what the hell lamellar armor is - as every site that ran this story sort of takes it for granted that either you know or know that the writer is too lazy to look it up and tell you.

I am lazy, but what the hell: lamellar armor is made from rectangular or vaguely rectangular armor plates laced into horizontal rows. The plates are made of iron, leather (rawhide), or bronze plates.

These pre-samurai lamellar armors did come into Japan at around the 5th century, usually taking the form of  a sleeveless jacket and a helmet.

While the warrior was not wearing a the helmet, it has lead archaeologists to ponder if he was on duty at the time and was trying to save a small child from the eruption or if in a rush to get his own family to safety, he didn't have time to put it on. Regardless, he appears to have been overcome trying to help a small child.

Judging from the positioning of his body, they guess he died on his knees and fell forward.

Andrew Joseph
As for the title... Lone Wolf And Cub are a famous Japanese manga (comic book) and movie series  - one of my favorite comics of all time. It involves a disgraced samurai (a ronin) wandering around Japan with his baby son doing good as a soldier for hire (think A-Team).

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