Stonehenge exhibition explores parallels with Japanese stone circles

Objects never before seen outside Japan will be part of show on site’s similarities to Jōmon monuments

theguardian.com -- May 05
They were separated by thousands of miles and the two sets of builders could not conceivably have met or swapped notes, but intriguing parallels between Stonehenge and Japanese stone circles are to be highlighted in an exhibition at the monument on Salisbury Plain.

The exhibition will show that ancient people in southern Britain and in Japan took great trouble to build stone circles, appear to have celebrated the passage of the sun and felt moved to come together for festivals or rituals.

Circles of Stone: Stonehenge and Prehistoric Japan will flag up similarities between the monuments and settlements of the middle and late Jōmon period in Japan and those built by the late neolithic people of southern Britain – and point out some of the differences.

The exhibition will feature 80 striking objects, some of which have never before been seen outside Japan. Key loans announced on Wednesday include a flame pot, a highly decorated type of Jōmon ceramics, its fantastical shape evoking blazing flames. Such pots were produced in Japan for a relative short period, perhaps only a few hundred years.

Also featured will be fragments of dogū, clay figurines that have been found at Jōmon settlements and stone circles and may have represented earth goddesses or spirits and been used in fertility or healing rituals. It is believed that many dogū were intentionally broken and scattered during ceremonies.

Among the Japanese sites that will be in focus is that of the Ōyu Stone Circles in northern Japan. It does not feature the sort of hulking standing stones that Stonehenge is famous for but rather two large circles made of thousands of river pebbles.

The circles include small standing “sundial” stones that align to the sun on midsummer daybreak. At Stonehenge on the longest day of the year, the sun’s first rays shine into the heart of the monument. ...continue reading