Critical Reflections on the History of Research on Emperor Jinmu, the First Emperor of Japan: Crossing the Boundaries between the Fields of History and Archaeology

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There have been 126 successive emperors in Japan, however, some historians question the reality of the early emperors, especially first Emperor Jinmu. One reason is that the Kojiki and Nihonshoki, Japan's oldest extant history texts, contain unnatural descriptions of the early emperors. History academics tended to place excessive faith in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki before World War II and to criticise them excessively after the war. In the last half-century, new archaeological findings have been discovered, such as the decipherment of the inscription of an iron sword by X-ray research in 1978, which proved the existence of the 21st Emperor Yūryaku, who was previously considered to be a created being. As it is unlikely that any documents older than the Kojiki and Nihonshoki will be found to clarify the facts about the early emperors, both literary and archaeological approaches are essential, and we should refrain from easily labelling the early emperors, including Emperor Jinmu, as real or not, without taking this evidence into account. Although the two approaches are not mutually exclusive, it is difficult to say that sufficient interdisciplinary research between the two fields has been conducted. The authenticity of the existence of the early emperors is a very important topic from the perspective of ancient East Asian history and the history of historiography. Based on archival and archaeological materials, this presentation transcends the boundaries of both archaeological and historical disciplines and critically examines the biases in the history of traditional research on Emperor Jinmu.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2024
EventLancaster Historical Postgraduate Conference 2024: Transcending Boundaries - Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Jun 202414 Jun 2024


ConferenceLancaster Historical Postgraduate Conference 2024
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
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