2021 Volume 129 Issue 2 Pages 53-74
In this study, we morphologically examined whether aristocratic characteristics are present in the skulls of the successive family heads and legal wives of the Nagai family, the hatamotos of the Tokugawa Shogunate, excavated in 2017 from the Kounji site in Minato, Tokyo. The skulls of the Shoguns and the Daimyos, who were at the top of a hierarchical society in the Edo period, show distinctive features that differ from those of the common people of Edo city, such as exceptionally high and narrow face, high and roomy orbit, extremely narrow and prominent nose, highly reduced mandible, and faint tooth wear. The skeletal remains of the Nagai family reveal genealogy spanning nearly 200 years, including ten patriarchs and seven legal wives, and constitute valuable ancestral material of the hatamoto family, which has never been reported before. The results of this study showed that the skulls of both, the heads and the legal wives of the Nagai family, demonstrate a tendency toward aristocratic characteristics, with the features of the heads resembling those of the Daimyos, and the features of the legal wives resembling those of the legal wives of the Shoguns and the Daimyos. However, the heads of the Nagai family had a sturdy mandible, similar to that of the common people, and the aristocratic characteristics did not tend to become stronger with successive generations. The relationship between the craniofacial morphology and the samurai hierarchy shows that the aristocratic characteristics were hierarchical. The supposed reason for the Nagai family’s aristocratic characteristics is that they were of the Daimyo lineage and had a high rank of 7000 koku among the hatamotos. Since the tooth wear of the heads of the Nagai family was minor, it is necessary to examine possibilities other than diet as factors in the robustness of the mandible.