The remains of a sixth century man wearing an armour have been found by archeologists in the Kanai Higashiura dig in Gunma prefecture, roughly 110 kilometres (70 miles) northwest of Tokyo, at the site of the volcanic Mount Haruna.
The body was well-preserved and it is possible for the sixth-century man to have been buried in hot ash, archeologists say. The body was apparently turned to face a flow of molten rock as it gushed through his settlement.
“Under normal circumstances, you would flee if flows are rushing toward you and bringing waves of heat. But this person died facing it,” said Shinichiro Ohki, of Gunma Archaeological Research Foundation.
“Maybe, if he were someone of a high position, he might have been praying, or doing something in the direction of the volcano and attempting to appease its anger,” Ohki told.
Along with the remains there was also found a part of an infant’s skull. Archaeologists will try to find out if the man and the child were related.
“If possible, we would like to study their DNA. Were they related? Why and how did they die there?” Ohki wondered.
The area is known as the “Pompeii of Japan”, a reference to the Roman city near modern-day Naples buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79.