Archaeologists working on a site in southwestern Japan have discovered census details inscribed on 10 wooden tablets dating from between 685 and 701 AD. The tablets, found in the city of Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, are believed to be the oldest surviving census records in Japanese history.
Examining the tablets by infrared, the archaeologists found the names of at least 16 local residents, plus their gender, relationships, occupations and rank in society, as well as details of historical locations. The recorded names include Takerube-no-Mimaro, Urabe-no-Akatari and Shirakabe-no-Itofu, while occupations and positions such as soldier and householder are also recorded.
The world’s oldest surviving census records are from the Han Dynasty in China and are over 2,000 years ago. The census was taken in the autumn of 2 AD, and it is considered by historians to be quite accurate. It records 57.7 million people living 12.4 million households in Han China, the world’s largest population at the time.