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Japan Fire Destroys Old Lacquer Relics

December 29, 2002 GMT

TOKYO (AP) _ A fire in northern Japan destroyed thousands of priceless artifacts, including the world’s oldest-known lacquer relics, officials said Sunday.

Some 80,000 artifacts excavated over a three-year period _ many dating back to the prehistoric Jomon Period _ were stored in an archaeology office in the town of Minamikayabe, said Chiharu Abe, a spokesman for the excavation team.

The cause of the Saturday evening fire was under investigation.

Among the losses were examples of ancient Japanese lacquerware made 9,000 years ago in the early Jomon period and believed to be the oldest of its kind, Abe said.


The fire also destroyed a 6,500-year-old clay imprint of a child’s foot and 3,000-year-old lacquered kettle, he said.

The relics, which had been excavated nearby, were stored in the building for safekeeping while archaeologists studied them. Minamikayabe is located on Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, about 425 miles northeast of Tokyo.