Session Abstract: This panel demonstrates how recent archaeological research challenges manuscript-centered approaches to the early history of Japan and Korea. Given East Asia’s long textual tradition, archaeology has often been seen as supplemental to disciplines more focused on manuscript texts. However, as these four interdisciplinary papers will demonstrate, manuscripts provide an unbalanced perspective at best, and archaeological evidence offers possibilities for corroborating, enhancing or challenging that perspective. Marjorie Burge explores how recent discoveries of inscribed artifacts challenge traditional narratives of the relationship between vernacular and Literary Sinitic writing in Three Kingdoms Period Korea. Bryan Lowe overcomes elite bias by combining archaeological and textual evidence explain the rapid spread of Buddhism to provincial villages in eighth-century Japan, significantly earlier than previously thought. Nadia Kanagawa examines how the archaeological record complicates understanding Korean immigration to early Japan as portrayed in extant manuscript sources. Finally, Joshua Frydman compares seventh- and eighth-century graffiti in Japan with that from other Eurasian societies to propose a general theory for the way that premodern poetry circulated outside of manuscript traditions. The research presented not only bridges regional and disciplinary areas, but offers examples of the essential role played by archaeology in pushing the boundaries of our understanding about Northeast Asia during a fundamental period in its development.
Paper Presenter: Nadia Kanagawa – Furman University
Paper Presenter: Marjorie Burge – University of Colorado Boulder
Paper Presenter: Bryan Lowe – Princeton University
Paper Presenter: Joshua Frydman – University of Oklahoma