Historic commodity of sulfur prevailed during the early to middle 19th century in Japan: A stable isotopic analysis for tracing the provenance

Chitoshi Mizota, Toshiro Yamanaka, Ryoko Furukawa, Yuki Furukawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Demands for native volcanic sulfur as one of the ingredients of gunpowder reached a maximum during the early to middle 19th century, when abrupt changes in the political regime occurred in Japan. The historic commodity of sulfur prevailing during this time was analyzed for stable isotopic ratios (expressed as δ34S) to examine the provenance. The sampled sulfur involves the Siebold collection (acquisition by P. F. von Siebold in Nagasaki, northern Kyushu and kept in Naturalis, Leiden, The Netherlands) and Egawa library (Nirayama, central Japan) for which exact location of the origin is ambiguous or absent. The sulfur isotopic data were evaluated by comparison with the revised database for the spatial distribution of δ34S values of operative sulfur mines throughout the Japanese archipelagos. With a few exceptions, the commodity sulfur was transported through short-distance marketing systems within close proximity to Nagasaki and Nirayama.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-536
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Volume5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2016

Keywords

  • 19th century
  • Native volcanic sulfur
  • Provenance
  • Spatial distribution
  • Sulfur isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • History

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