Photo/IllutrationThe pattern of a roof-tile ornament unearthed from the Hachiya ruins in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture, matches those found at Horyuji temple. The photo was taken on Oct. 12. (Provided by Shiga Prefectural Association for Cultural Heritage)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

RITTO, Shiga Prefecture--Roof-tile pieces with flower-like ornaments that were unearthed here are believed to have come from a temple founded in late seventh century and connected to the famed Horyuji temple in Nara Prefecture.

The ornaments, matching the Horyuji-style roof-tile pattern, were among numerous items discovered in Hachiya archaeological site in Ritto.

Two high-profile ornaments of another pattern were also found in the Hachiya ruins.

It is highly likely that the pair of Hachiya ornaments were created in a wooden mold that was also used for the tiles discovered earlier at the Wakakusa Garan ruins at the Horyuji temple compound and the Chuguji temple ruins, both in Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture.

The pattern on the Hachiya ornaments is the same as that previously installed on the roof of the Saiin Garan building in the Horyuji temple compound. The building was constructed after Horyuji temple was burned down in 670.

The tiles in Ritto are the first found outside of the two sites in Nara Prefecture.

“The discovery (in Ritto) is physical evidence that the temple was founded under the strong influence of the Horyuji temple,” said Hiromichi Hayashi, professor emeritus of archaeology at the University of Shiga Prefecture.

Some objects believed to be pieces of ornamental ridges from the roof were also found in the Hachiya ruins, the Shiga Prefectural Association for Cultural Heritage said Nov. 1.

Ancient settlements existed at the site of the Hachiya ruins between the Jomon Pottery Culture period (c. 8000 B.C.-300 B.C.) and the Muromachi Period (1338-1573).

Around the area, certain traditions that continue today are connected to the Hachiyaji temple. In addition, some district names, such as Munedera, are evidence that the area was once home to a temple. “Tera” or “dera” means temple in Japanese.

Traces of four ditches in a north-south direction were found during the excavation project that has been conducted by the Shiga Prefectural Association for Cultural Heritage since April. The ornaments and tile pieces were unearthed from those ditches.

In ancient times, the northern area of Ritto where the Hachiya ruins are located was the domain of the Mononobe family, an influential clan in the ruling class of the old-time government. It was called the “Mononobe Go” district.

The clan fought and lost to the powerful Soga family on whether to accept Buddhism in late sixth century.

As a result, the ownership of Mononobe’s domain shifted to Shotoku Taishi (Prince Shotoku 574-622).

Horyuji temple took over the clan’s land because Shotoku Taishi fought on the side of the Soga family, and he was the one who founded the Horyuji temple.

Shotoku Taishi has been called Umayadono no Miko (Prince Umayado).

According to a document compiled by representatives of the Horyuji temple in the mid-eighth century, the region of northern Ritto is owned by the temple.