A 1,400 year old Kofun-period warrior, still dressed in his lamellar suit of armor, was unearthed at the Harunayama Futatsudake excavation site. The warrior, together with an infant, were probably killed and buried during a volcanic eruption, archaeologists believe.
Located in Gunma Prefecture, the Kanai Higashiura site, together with the nearby Kuroimine and Nakasuji, has been called the “Pompeii of Japan” because the whole area was buried after the eruption Harunayama Futatsudake in the early part of the sixth century. Over the years, around 600 armored suits have been discovered, but this is the first time that the suit was still worn by its owner. The common name for these suits are kozaneko or keiko, and normally they are found in tombs, next to its owner.
This particular warrior was found face down in the direction of the volcano and might have been kneeling at the time of the eruption, then fell face forward. He wasn’t wearing a full suit, just protection for his torso and thighs, which might mean he wasn’t on official duty. He might have been trying to escape the volcano’s wrath by running for cover with his family.
Archeologists further theorize that this warrior was part of an elite group of soldiers. Based on his size and the armor design that could be found on tombs, it might even be that he was a local ruler. Further examination of the remains might lead to a deeper understanding of the local history of this lost town or city.