ASIA212Varley

The horse rider theory is an intriguing idea

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Unformatted text preview: re before the fifth century. But the depiction of horses as haniwa has lent support to the theory, advanced soon after World War II, that Japan was invaded in this period by horse-riding warriors who, entering from Korea, conquered the country and established themselves as its new ruling elite. The horse-rider theory is an intriguing idea, especially when considered in conjunction with the movement of “barbarian” peoples on the northeast Asian mainland during this same period.8 But it seems that those who have advanced the theory have not paid sufficient attention to all the archaeological evidence. As presented by its originator, Professor Egami Namio, the theory rests squarely on the contention that there was a “sudden” appearance of horse-rider grave goods and warrior and horse haniwa in and on the great tombs in the late fourth century. Actually, as noted above, such goods and haniwa did not appear until well into the fifth century, and then their appearance was not sudden but gradual. The Japanese did indeed, about this time, receive new knowledge of fighting on horseback as well as the material accoutrements of such fighting, including armor, helmets, and protective gear for horses; but these seem clearly to have been imported by the Japanese themselves and not brought to the islands by continental invaders.9 Whether or not it was founded by alien horseriders, a new dynasty seems clearly to have arisen in the central provinces in the early 400s. Judging from the fact that the very largest burial mounds date from this time (the largest is that of the protohistorical “Emperor Nintoku,” which covers an area 1,500 feet in length and is situated outside modern Osaka), the new dynasty came into being with considerable force and power. The dynasty’s power was used at least in part to pursue a policy of military expansionism in Korea, where three states—Silla, Paekche, and Koguryô —were struggling for hegemony. Japan may have established a military colony or outpost called Mimana on the...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.

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