The Ancient Jomon and the Pacific Rim

DATE: Thursday-Saturday, March 20-22, 2008

PLACE: Opening session: The Faculty Club, Seaborg Room
Remaining sessions: 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor

SPONSORS: Institute of East Asian Studies
Center for Japanese Studies
Department of Anthropology
Archaeological Research Facility
Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences
Henry Luce Foundation



"Jomon" is the name of a prehistoric culture and period on the Japanese archipelago. Dating from about 16,000 to 2500 years ago, the Jomon culture is known for its artistic pottery, large settlements and complex ritual sites such as stone circles. Unlike most prehistoric pottery-using peoples in other parts of the world, the people of the Jomon period are thought to have been hunter-gatherer-fishers. It is also known that characteristics of the Jomon culture changed significantly through time, and between regions. By examining such temporal and regional variability, Jomon archaeology can contribute to understanding the Japanese past and the mechanisms of long-term culture change in human history.

Scholars who work on other archaeological cultures along the Pacific Rim, such as California, have pointed out the importance of comparative studies. Similarities between Jomon and Native American cultures include a heavy reliance on marine food and various nuts, including acorns. Recent developments in new scientific techniques, such as AMS radiocarbon dating, and bioarchaeological studies, have further stimulated academic interaction between Japanese and North American archaeologists.

The goals of this symposium are thus twofold: (1) to compare the Jomon with other archaeological cultures along the Pacific Rim, and (2) to exchange new information on theory and method of hunter-gatherer archaeology, environmental archaeology and archaeological science. By doing so, we hope to demonstrate that Jomon archaeology is an exciting and emerging regional field.

This symposium is part of our institutional project "Understanding Lifeways and Biocultural Diversity in Prehistoric Japan" supported by the Luce Initiative on East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History.



All sessions are free and open to the public.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Location: Seaborg Room, The Faculty Club, UC Berkeley

4:00 pm - 4:30 pm

4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
C. Melvin Aikens, Complex Hunter-Gatherers along the North Pacific Rim: Environmental and Culture-Historical Perspectives

5:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Questions and discussion

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Friday, March 21, 2008
Session 1: Jomon and Circum Pacific Rim Hunter-Gatherers

Location: IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor, UC Berkeley

9:00 am - 9:30 am
Junko Habu, Jomon in the Context of Pacific Rim archaeology

9:30 am - 10:00 am
Akira Matsui, Prehistoric Shell-middens and Wetland Sites in East Asia: A Zooarchaeological Perspective

10:00 am - 10:30 am
Kenneth Ames, Financing Hunter-Gatherer complexity: A Case Study from the Lower Columbia River

10:30 am - 11:00 am
Kent Lightfoot, A Case Study from the San Francisco Bay

Session 2: Jomon and Circum Pacific Rim Hunter-Gatherers

Location: IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor, UC Berkeley

11:00 am - 11:30 am
Brian Chisholm, The Application of Stable Isotope Analysis in Studying Japanese Paleodiet

11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Lunch break

12:30 pm - 1:00 pm
Mitsuo Suzuki, Insights on the Origins of Lacquer

1:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Mineo Imamura, Radiocarbon Dates for the Jomon Period

1:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Carl Heron, Molecular Information from Pottery Vessels: Prospects for the Study of the Jomon

2:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Sabrina Agarwal, Bone Maintenance and Remodeling: Potential Methods for Reconstructing Lifestyle and Health in the Jomon

2:30 pm - 3:00 pm

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Session 3: Biocultural Diversity in Prehistoric Japan and East Asia

Location: IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor, UC Berkeley

9:00 am - 9:30 am
Simon Kaner, The Jomon in International Perspective: A View from Europe

9:30 am - 10:00 am
Yumiko Ito, Buckeye Use during the Jomon period: A Case Study from the Sannai Maruyama No. 9 Site

10:00 am - 10:30 am
Leo Aoi Hosoya, Staple Foods during the Prehistoric Periods of Japan: Archaeological and Ethnographic Approaches

10:30 am - 11:00 am
Coffee break

11:00 am - 11:30 am
Tomokazu Onishi, Kyushu and Honshu in the Protohistoric Period

11:30 am - 12:00 pm
Richard Pearson, Jomon Goes South: Okinawan Hunter-Gatherers

12:00 pm - 12:30 pm

12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Lunch reception



Sabrina Agarwal (Anthropology, UC Berkeley), Bone Maintenance and Remodeling: Potential Methods for Reconstructing Lifestyle and Health in the Jomon
Bioarchaeological studies of Jomon skletal material have historically focused on genetic variation and migration patterns, with good recent studies of dietary reconstruction and health from dental pathology and gross morphology. However, there has been limited study on the use of indicators of bone remodeling and maintenance to understand the quality of life of Jomon skeletal populations. Patterns in bone maintenance and microstructure are valuable indicators of skeletal health that can be non-invasively examined in archaeological samples with methods such as peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT). Here we present an overview of the use of HR-pQCT to examine age and sex-related patterns of bone maintenance in prehistoric archaeological populations, with potential applications for the reconstruction of past lifeways in the Jomon.

C. Melvin Aikens (Anthropology, University of Oregon), Complex Hunter-Gatherers along the North Pacific Rim: Environmental and Culture-Historical Perspectives
The sophisticated hunting-gathering cultures that grew up along the Pacific Rim from the Sea of Japan to Northern California owe their far-reaching sociocultural similarities to the interplay of two dominant factors. One is the similarity of the environments they were formed in, and the other is the fact that both grew from the same Northeast Asian Upper Paleolithic origins. The Jomon culture of Japan provides the longest and most richly-known developmental sequence, and the Northwest Coast cultures of the Alaska-British Columbia Inside Passage the most elegant still-living portrayal of the ancient tradition. For the study of complex hunting-gathering cultures the North Pacific Rim is a land choice above all others.

Kenneth Ames (Anthropology, Portland State University), Financing Hunter-Gatherer complexity: A Case Study from the Lower Columbia River
Social and economic complexity among hunter-gatherers is strongly affected by how production is organized, including levels specialization, and the role of high status individuals in subsistence and other activities. Long-term research on the Lower Columbia River on household production shows there were high levels of production, but the organization of production was very fluid, much more fluid than expected, based on current Anthropological and Archaeological theories. This has significant implications for our understanding of these dymanics both on the Northwest and in the Japanese Jomon.

Brian Chisholm (Anthropology, University of British Columbia),The Application of Stable Isotope Analysis in Studying Japanese Paleodiet
Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of collagen recovered from prehistoric human bone from sites in Japan has been used to reconstruct paleodiet. Results have been used to estimate how much protein in the diet was from marine or terrestrial species, the importance of meat versus plant foods, and to detect differences in diet according the status and gender. The results of such studies have provided interesting information, allowing inter-site and temporal comparisons, but they have also revealed problems in the methodology and its application. This paper will summarize research results and will discuss some of the difficulties and problems discovered while obtaining them.

Junko Habu (Anthropology, UC Berkeley), Jomon in the Context of Pacific Rim Archaeology
Understanding causes, conditions and consequences of long-term culture change has been a key research topic in hunter-gatherer archaeology. Case studies from Jomon Japan provide us with excellent opportunities to test competing models of the development of social and cultural complexity in prehistoric societies. Focusing on the development and decline of large settlements in northern Japan during the Middle Jomon period, this presentation shows how the rich Jomon data can be used to understand the mechanisms of culture change. The results are discussed in the context of hunter-gatherer archaeology of the North Pacific Rim.

Carl Heron (Archaeological Science, University of Bradford), Molecular Information from Pottery Vessels: Prospects for the Study of the Jomon
How pottery vessels were actually used in the past presents a surprising gap in our knowledge. In recent years, the analysis of remnant organic matter in pottery vessels has begun to make a broad impact especially from the Neolithic onwards, but few studies have been undertaken on pottery produced and used before the introduction of agriculture. Recent advances in lipid biomarker detection and single-compound carbon isotope measurements are enabling greater opportunities to tackle questions of resource introduction and use at specific times and places in the past. The context of pottery use among late foragers, during the transition to farming and in early agricultural societies is an obvious target for these studies. The presence of both pre- and post-agricultural pottery is well documented in northern Europe and here the process of Neolithisation has been keenly debated. This contribution summarises work to date and highlights future potential, especially applied to the Jomon.

Leo Aoi Hosoya (Research Institute for Humanity and Nature), Staple Foods during the Prehistoric Periods of Japan: Archaeological and Ethnographic Approaches
"Staple food" is an issue not only of the quantity of food that people consume, but also of the social and cultural relationships between humans and food. On the archaeological basis, we know that rice cultivation was introduced into Japan by the Late Jomon period. When, however, did rice become the "staple food" as defined above? This issue is discussed using archaeobotanical data as well as ethnographic data illustrating the human-food relationship.

Mineo Imamura (Archaeological Science, National Museum of History, Japan), Radiocarbon Dates for the Jomon Period
This paper reviews the absolute chronology for prehistoric Japan based on AMS 14C dating. Focusing on the Jomon period, the paper discusses the calibrated dates for the Sannai-Maruyama archaeological site. The methodology in calibration will also be presented.

Yumiko Ito (Archaeological Center of Aomori Prefecture)Buckeye Use during the Jomon period: A Case Study from the Sannai Maruyama No. 9 Site
The ethnographic record in Japan indicates that buckeyes have been used as food, often ground and made into a type of bread. Archaeological findings of buckeyes in Japan go back to the Jomon period. Scholars have suggested that buckeyes might have been used as early as the Early Jomon. Until recently, however, firm evidence of buckeye processing had been reported only from the Late and Final Jomon sites. Recent excavations at the Chikano and Sannai Maruyama No. 9 sites in Aomori Prefecture revealed the presence of Middle Jomon features that were used for buckeye processing. On the basis of these new lines of evidence, this presentation examines buckeye use during the Jomon period.

Simon Kaner (Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures), The Jomon in International Perspective: A View from Europe
The Jomon cultures of the Japanese archipelago are now widely recognised as one of the best examples known to archaeology of economically developed, socially complex and culturally rich prehistoric fisher-gatherer-hunter traditions. This symposium sets the achievements of the Jomon in their north Pacific context, and this paper considers the significance of the Jomon on a global scale, with some reflections from the perspective of European prehistory.

Kent Lightfoot (Anthropology, UC Berkeley), Complex Hunter-Gatherers in California: A Case Study from the San Francisco Bay
A highly sophisticated hunter-gatherer culture flourished in the greater San Francisco Bay Area over several thousand years. This culture is notable for its high population density, elaborate ritual and political organizations, intensive harvesting systems, and impressive shell mounds. Recent research on the shell mounds is providing new insights into complex hunter-gatherers in California. This paper will briefly summarize this work and address two issues currently being debated about complex hunter-hunters that concern resource management and resource intensification.

Akira Matsui (Nara National Cultural Properties Research Institute/Kyoto University), Prehistoric Shell-middens and Wetland Sites in East Asia: A Zooarchaeological Perspective
More than 3000 shell-middens are distributed on the Japanese archipelago and the Korean Peninsula. In this presentation, excavation results of three shell-middens are discussed. The Awazu Lake Bottom site (2500 BC; Shiga Prefecture) and the Higashimyo Shell-midden (5000 BC; Saga Prefecture) are waterlogged Jomon shell-middens that have yielded a large amount of faunal and floral remains as well as artifacts made of organic materials. Recently, I also had an opportunity to work on the Kimhae shell-midden in Korea (BC 50-160 AD). Excavations of these shell-middens have provided us with invaluable information to reconstruct the lifeways of past peoples and to infer the relationships between shell-middens and settlement sites.

Tomokazu Onishi (Archaeology, International University of Kagoshima/UC Berkeley), Kyushu and Honshu in the Protohistoric Period
The Kofun period of Japan (late 3rd-6th Cent. AD) is typically known for an abundance of mound tombs, including large, keyhole-shaped ones. Regional diversity in burial customs is also prominent, however. In southern Kyushu, tombs with underground corridor-style burial chambers, as well as keyhole-shaped mound tombs, were commonly made. Scholars have suggested that the former was left by a local ethnic group, namely the Hayato documented in early historical records. Can we confirm this interpretation archaeologically? Through an archaeological examination of underground corridor-style burial chambers, this presentation attempts to approach key issues in the study of Kofun period residents in southern Kyushu.

Richard Pearson (Anthropology, University of British Columbia, and Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures), Jomon Goes South: Okinawan Hunter-Gatherers
Jomon people are known as mid-latitude hunter-gatherers who relied heavily on food resources from temperate forests and seashores. However Jomon people colonized the sub-tropical Ryukyu Islands. Around 7,300 years ago (by calibrated radiocarbon dating) they established small communities as far south as Okinawa Island. Was their arrival related to the cataclysmic explosion of the submarine Kikai Caldera, between Kyushu and northern Ryukyu, dated to 7,280 cal BP? It seems that island life was precarious for several millennia until the Late Jomon Period. Was the achievement of successful colonization linked to the formation of complete fringing reefs? Did they live on the abundance of the coral reefs, or eke out their existence from terrestrial sources? What was it like for hunter gatherers to live on small islands? New excavations on American military bases provide some interesting clues.

Mitsuo Suzuki (Botanical Garden, Tohoku University), Insights on the Origins of Lacquer
Lacquer is produced from the latex of trees typical to East and Southeast Asia. In East Asia, lacquer (japan lacquer) is collected from trees of Toxicodendron vernicifluum (Anacardiaceae, Cashew family). The oldest lacquerware in the world is known from Japan, dated to about 9,000 yBP (Initial Jomon Period). In China, the oldest lacquerware is dated to about 7,500 yBP, and about 2,500yBP in Korea. Despite these lines of evidence, most Japanese botanists believe that the lacquer plant was introduced from China as there is no native tree in Japan. In this presentation, questions regarding when, from where and how the lacquer plants came to Japan are considered in light of archaeobotanical and neobotanical studies.



Events for the symposium "The Ancient Jomon and the Pacific Rim" will be held at two different locations on the UC Berkeley campus.

The opening lecture and reception will be held in the Seaborg Room of the Faculty Club. You will find the Faculty Club in section C5 of this campus map. Please note that the Seaborg Room at the Faculty Club is not wheelchair accessible. All other events are being held at wheelchair-accessible sites.

The remaining sessions will be held at the Institute of East Asian Studies in the 6th floor conference room, at 2223 Fulton Street. You will find IEAS in section D1 of this campus map.

Directions to the Berkeley campus

If traveling by BART, exit the Richmond-Fremont line at the Berkeley station (not North Berkeley). When you leave the BART station, walk south down Shattuck Avenue to Kittredge Street (two or three blocks depending on which station exit you leave from) and turn left. Walk up Kittredge Street one block, and you will be at the Institute of East Asian Studies (2223 Fulton Street).

To reach the Faculty Club, turn right when you get to the IEAS building and walk a short block to Bancroft. Turn left and walk five blocks up Bancroft. When you get to College Avenue, turn left into the campus, and walk between the buildings, with Kroeber Hall on your left, Wurster Hall on your right, then Hertz Hall on your left, and Minor Hall on your right. After you pass Hertz and Minor Halls you will be standing in front of the Faculty Club.

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