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Proceedings in Radiochemistry

A Supplement to Radiochimica Acta

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Radiocarbon dating of ancient Japanese calligraphy sheets and the discovery of 45 letters of a lost manuscript

H. Oda / H. Yasu / K. Ikeda / M. Sakamoto / Y. Yoshizawa
Published Online: 2011-09-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/rcpr.2011.0058


The Miidera-gire is an ancient paper sheet with different, elegant calligraphy on both sides. One side contains a part of a Buddhist scripture from around the ninth to the twelfth century and written in cursive hand, while the other side contains a part of Monzen (an anthology of Chinese literary works). The paleographical style of this Monzen seems to be older than that of the Buddhist scripture and is similar to some Chinese manuscripts written in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907). However, amid these elegant calligraphic writings, there exist many copies and counterfeits that were written several centuries later. We, therefore, measured the radiocarbon age of the Miidera-gire by using accelerator mass spectrometry. The calibrated radiocarbon age indicated 666–776 [cal AD] (2σ error), thus leading to the conclusion that the Monzen was first written on the obverse side, and long afterwards, the Buddhist scripture was written on the reverse side. Since only a few incomplete books of Monzen were written before the ninth century, this calligraphy is one of the oldest of the existing Monzen manuscripts.

Keywords: Radiocarbon dating; Ancient Japanese calligraphy; Lost manuscript

About the article

Published Online: 2011-09-08

Published in Print: 2011-09-01

Citation Information: Proceedings in Radiochemistry A Supplement to Radiochimica Acta, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 331–334, ISSN (Print) xxxx-xxxx, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/rcpr.2011.0058.

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