A World Heritage Site for the World’s Largest Cemetery

Standing up to 35 meters height, the Daisen tumulus in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture — also commonly referred to as the tomb of Emperor Nintoku — spans the length of nearly five football fields, making it the world’s largest ancient burial mound in terms of area, and putting it in the same class as the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt and the Tomb of Qin Shihuang in China as one of the three largest in the world. It was constructed in the early to mid-5th century AD. In 2008, the tumulus and its environs were placed on a provisional list of places in Japan for possible designation as UNESCO’s world heritage site. At the World Heritage Committee meeting held in Cambodia in June, Japan’s ancient military capital, Kamakura, was dropped from consideration, leading some to conclude that the bar has been raised for the designation. The Daisen tumulus is administered by Japan’s Imperial Household Agency, which is engaged in its own internal debate over the pros and cons of allowing an imperial tomb to be designated as a world heritage site.

Moat surrounding the tomb



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