Abstract - Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and

British-Japanese Archaeological Exchanges from the 19th Century to Today
Dr Simon Kaner FSA, Head, Centre for Archaeology and Heritage, Sainsbury Institute
and Director, Centre for Japanese Studies, University of East Anglia
In this lecture, drawing in particular on Japanese archaeological materials in two national
collections in the United Kingdom, the British Museum and the National Museum of
Scotland, Simon Kaner will explore archaeological interrelationships between Japan and
Europe from the 19th to the 21st centuries, the significance of Japan-Europe research
networks for the development of world archaeology, and the role that archaeology plays
now and in the future in culture and society.
Britain and Japan have a long but little known history of relations and mutual influence in
the field of archaeology that extends back to the 19th century establishment of the
discipline. Early British interest in the ancient Japanese past began with the work of William
Gowland, a foreign specialist employed by the Osaka Mint between 1872 and 1888.
Gowland’s hobby was archaeology, and during his 16 years in Japan he investigated and
surveyed some 400 kofun (ancient burial mounds dating from the 3rd-8th centuries). At about
the same time as Gowland returned to the UK, Tsuboi Shogoro, future Professor of
Anthropology at the University of Tokyo, went to study archaeology and anthropology in
London, with one of the founding figures of British anthropology, E.B. Tylor. Tsuboi died in St
Petersburg returning from a later trip, but not before he had left gifts of Japanese
archaeological objects with a number of key museums in Europe. As the 20th century
dawned, Neil Gordon Munro arrived in Yokohama, and stayed in Japan until 1942. Munro
became Director of the Yokohama Hospital, and in his spare time undertook archaeological
excavations at the Mitsusawa shell midden. In 1908, Munro published Prehistoric Japan, the
first English language synthesis of Japanese archaeology in English. In the 1910s Hamada
Kosaku, who established the first dedicated Department of Archaeology in a Japanese
university, at Kyoto University in 1916, studied at UCL in London with Flinders Petrie, one of
the most distinguished British archaeologists of the day, who in large part established the
modern archaeological study of Egyptology.
These initials links formed the foundation for subsequent exchanges between Japanese and
European archaeology. This lecture will show how these exchanges have impacted on the
development of archaeology in both areas, and will consider the potential for future