An invitation to Japan...

MOLA team

MOLA Senior Consultant Sophie Jackson was recently invited by Osaka City Cultural Properties Association (OCCPA) to travel to Japan to give two presentations on how archaeological work happens in London and how we approach public engagement. Sophie’s visit included meetings with the Chief Archaeologists for Japan (past and current) and discussion of how to avoid loss of information due to the commercialisation of archaeology – something that Japan is facing. 


Sophie notes, “Japanese archaeology is very well funded and the two museums I visited really focused on archaeology as an educational tool. The Hyogo Museum (near Kobe) was all about the archaeological process and had a wonderful permanent 'Big Dig' style facility for kids. Similarly, the Osaka Museum had a dedicated exhibition space for having a go at archaeology, with sophisticated activities covering investigation and interpretation. I also visited two excavation sites. The first was for a new motorway with a 5th-century hilltop settlement and the second was an urban, medieval site in downtown Kyoto.”

Japanese archaeology is still based around local organisations which have local knowledge and responsibility for carrying out work. Japan also has a very different definition of what an archaeologist is, compared to the UK. The site teams (who excavate and record) are often employed by construction companies. The 'archaeologists' are the supervisors and researchers who work for the local organisations. Sophie says, “There are, not surprisingly, big differences between Japanese archaeology and the UK - but a lot of similarities in terms of excavation techniques and the approach to post-excavation.” OCCPA and MOLA are very keen to maintain a link and we will be looking for potential projects and exchanges, particularly around public engagement and site supervision.

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