Prehistoric Jomon of Japan and Hunter-Gatherer Lifeways



"Jomon" is the name of a prehistoric culture and period on the Japanese archipelago from 14,000-2500 years ago. Following our previous symposium, The Ancient Jomon and the Pacific Rim, this symposium aims 1) to examine Japanese Jomon data in the context of world hunter-gatherer archaeology, 2) to provide a common research ground for archaeologists, bioarchaeologists and physical anthropologists, and 3) to discuss several controversial issues in the field of Jomon and East Asian Archaeology. Topics to be covered include regional diversity in hunter-gatherer lifeways, the boundary between hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists, new methods and techniques to reconstruct lifeways of prehistoric peoples, and the population history of the "Japanese."

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.



Sabrina C AgarwalBone Maintenance and Remodeling: Potential Methods for Reconstructing Lifestyle and Health in the Jomon
Bioarchaeological studies of Jomon skleletal 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. With novel technology there is potential in bioarchaeology to study on indicators of bone remodeling and maintenance to understand the quality of life of Jomon 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 trabecular bone microstructure in prehistoric archaeological populations, with potential applications for the reconstruction of past lifeways in the Jomon discussed.

Hisao BabaPopulation History of the Japanese Archipelago from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Modern Age
The formation process of the modern "Japanese" people is succinctly summarized by Hanihara (1991)'s dual structure model. The gist of the model is widely accepted among most anthropologists today. It suggests that the origin of the modern Japanese consists of the two groups: the Jomon people that originated from Southeast Asia, and the immigrants of Northeast Asia origins who came to the Japanese archipelago during and after the Yayoi period. The latter population spread over the original distribution of the Jomon population. The process of hybridization of these two populations is still ongoing, resulting in distinctive regional diversity among the residents of the Japanese archipelago today. Some scholars have raised the possibility the Jomon people originated not only from Southeast Asia but also from other regions of Asia, but this issue is still unresolved. This paper examines morphological characteristics of skeletal remains from the Minatogawa man (ca. 20,000 years ago) to the present. Anthropological studies on the formation process of the Japanese people have contributed to form a foundation on which three ethnic groups (the Ainu, the "mainland" Japanese, and the Ryukyuans) in contemporary Japan can respect each other.

Peter BleedCharacteristics and Implications of the Jomon Ecological Style
Excellent research done by Japanese archeologists provides an ideal context to consider how and why cultivation began. Jomon communities practiced close and complex relationships with a variety of plants and animals. This presentation describes basic ecological characteristics of Jomon cultures and uses them to consider why Japan is not counted among the hearth areas where agriculture developed.

Chihhua ChiangReconstructing Prehistoric Social Organization
The purpose of my dissertation project is to identify characteristics of social organization among the Neolithic people in Taiwan. Specifically, my project aims to examine social differentiation at the inter-household level. Using what anthropologists call "House Society" as a model, archaeological implications derived from this model are tested through spatial analysis of artifacts and features from the Wan-san site (ca. 3,500-2,700 B.P.). The result of the analysis should be able to show the differences between the houses and further inform us whether the so-called "House Society" existed or not.

Gary W. CrawfordThe Jomon in Early Agriculture Discourse
Over the last few decades, the Jomon period or culture (Jomon jidai, Jomon bunka) has transformed in the English language literature to "Jomon hunter-gatherers." The classification of the Jomon as hunter-gatherers (collectors and affluent foragers) became entrenched in some intellectual circles in the 1980s. Anthropogenesis, resource production, and cultigens, despite being part of the discourse on the Jomon, are discounted in understanding Jomon settlement systems, population density, complexity, and their regional variation. This paper critically assesses the affluent forager/collector model from several perspectives, including the role of analogies with North American First Nations and the eastern Hokkaido Ainu, and the perceived centrality of rice to the definition of Japanese agriculture. A cleaer understanding of Jomon success and longevity is possible by acknowledging a significant role for resource production and how Jomon populations interacted with the environment. The comparative potential of the Jomon in the context of agricultural archaeology can also be realized.

Junko HabuJomon Archaeology in the Context of Hunter-Gatherer Studies
Lasting over 10,000 years, the Jomon cultures of the Japanese archipelago provide excellent opportunities to examine conditions, causes and consequences of long-term change and regional diversity in hunter-gatherer cultures. Research foci in Jomon archaeology include the degree of sedentism, the level of social inequality, craft specialization, environmental management, and the importance of cultigens as staple food. Using archaeological data from Early and Middle Jomon sites in northeastern Japan, this presentation demonstrates how the rich Jomon data can be used to approach key issues in hunter-gatherer archaeology.

Ryuji IshikawaDNA Analyses of Archaeological Plant Materials: A Case Study from Sannai Maruyama
Sannai-Maruyama prospered from the Early to the Middle Jomon periods (3900-1500 cal. BP). Analyses of floral remains from the site have provided us with information regarding Jomon plant cultivation. Previously, Sato et al. applied DNA archaeological techniques to chestnut remains excavated from this site. Their results indicate that, even though chestnuts are cross-pollinated plants, chestnut samples from Sannai Maruyama show significant reduction in the diversity of DNA structure. This implies the practice of artificial selection. DNA studies of other plant remains from the site, such as seeds of beans and grapes, should also be conducted. Hence, we applied DNA archaeology to identify plant species by using cytoplasmic DNA.

Tetsuo KikuchiAn Archaeological Study of the Formation of Ainu Ethnicity
This paper examines the history of the development of Ainu ethnicity. The first part of this paper examines Ainu history on the basis of historical records during and before the Edo period. Switching the chronological order, the second part of the paper examines archaeological data starting with the prehistoric period, from the Late and Final Jomon, epi-Jomon, Satsumon to the Okhotuk periods. Research on the medieval period has recently been significantly advanced through Ainu archaeology, analyses of Ainu place names in eastern Japan, regional distribution analyses of Hokkaido style pottery, and linguistic studies on the relationship between Japanese dialects and the "Jomon language." I am particularly interested in the study of iomante or bear-sending ceremony, which has played a central role in the traditional Ainu culture. In order to answer the question of whether the Ainu people are the descendants of the northern Japanese or of the people of the entire Japanese archipelago, it is crucial to understand the relationships of the Ainu with the the epi-Jomon and the Jomon cultures.

Shuzo KoyamaJomon Farmers
Previously, most Jomon researchers have assumed that the Jomon period was a hunter-gatherer society. Although remains of cultigens have been reported from Jomon sites, very few Japanese scholars have accepted the idea of Jomon plant cultivation. There are two reasons for this: 1) it is not easy to prove that these floral remains are clearly dated to the Jomon period, and 2) most Japanese scholars have the preconceptions that agriculture implies wet paddy rice cultivation. However, recent developments in excavation techniques and analytical methods have resulted in a significant increase in the number of cultigens excavated from Jomon sites. As a result, we can no longer deny the presence of Jomon cultivation. Following a brief introduction, this paper first outlines the importance of barnyard millet, buckeyes, burdock and Perilla (shiso mint or egoma) in Jomon diet on the basis of archaeological data. Second, I use results of my ethnographic research in the Hida region to differentiate the rice district from the millet district within 19th century rural Japan. The third part of this paper uses ethnohistorical documents from Shirakawa Village, Hida, to shed new light on the society of a small-scale agricultural society with a focus on slash-and-burn barnyard millet agriculture. The list of main food items from this village matches almost perfectly with that from the Jomon period.

Tomokazu OnishiLifeways of Kofun Period People
The Kofun period of Japan (late 3rd-6th Cent. AD) is typically known for an abundance of mound tombs called kofun. Some of them are large and keyhole-shaped. In this talk, I will present an overview of the study of kofun and the Kofun period. Following the overview, I will discuss why people in this period made such large tombs and suggest the social role of kofuns. Also discussed will be the lifeways of Kofun period people.

Ikuo NakamuraDispersal of Rice to South and Southeast Asia
The origin of the indica rice (spp. indica, Oryza sativa) group, one of the two varieties of Asian common rice, is discussed in the present paper. Another variety, the japonica-group, was domesticated in the Yangtze River basin in the latest 10,000 years from its wild progenitor, O. rufipogon. Based on the high-level of polymorphisms of nucleolus DNA, the indica group is supposed to have originated from natural hybridization of distantly-related groups. Polymorphism of chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) suggests that the natural hybridization may have been occurring several times, more than once.

David Hurst ThomasWhat Happened to the Archaic Foragers of the American Southeast?
This paper will discuss the Late Archaic people the Southeastern United States (ca. 3000 B.C. — 1000 B.C.). I employ data from throughout the Southeast, but will emphasize our three decades of research on St. Catherines Island (Georgia). The Late Archaic is typically described as a time of population growth, innovative developments in subsistence strategies, and increased social complexity. By contrast, many subsequent (Early Woodland) are relatively small scale, mobile foragers organized into unranked or minimally ranked lineages and clans. These later groups also seem to be more socially isolated than their Late Archaic predecessors, with a decline in regional exchange networks. This paper specifically addresses the nature of change during the Late Archaic-Early Woodland transition.



All sessions are free and open to the public.

Friday, September 19, 2008
Session 1: Jomon Archaeology and Hunter-Gatherer Studies

9:00 am - 9:15 am
Opening remarks

9:15 am - 9:45 am
Junko Habu: Jomon Archaeology in the Context of Hunter-Gatherer Studies

9:45 am - 10:15 am
Peter Bleed: Characteristics and Implications of the Jomon Ecological Style

10:15 am - 10:30 am

10:30 am - 11:00 am
David Hurst Thomas: What Happened to the Archaic Foragers of the American Southeast?

11:00 am - 11:30 am
Shuzo Koyama: Jomon Farmers

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Lunch Reception

Session 2: Lifeways of Prehistoric and Early Historic Peoples in East Asia

1:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Gary W. Crawford: The Jomon in Early Agriculture Discourse

1:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Tomokazu Onishi: Lifeways of Kofun Period People

2:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Chihhua Chiang: Reconstructing Prehistoric Social Organization

2:30 pm - 3:00 pm

Saturday, September 20
Session 3: The Jomon and East Asia: Approaches from Archaeology, Plant Biology and Bioarchaeology

9:00 am - 9:30 am
Ikuo Nakamura: Dispersal of Rice to South and Southeast Asia

9:30 am - 10:00 am
Ryuji Ishikawa: DNA Analyses of Archaeological Plant Materials: A Case Study from Sannai Maruyama

10:00 am - 10:15 am

10:15 am - 10:45 am
Sabrina Agarwal: Bone Maintenance and Remodeling: Potential Methods for Reconstructing Lifestyle and Health in the Jomon

10:45 am - 11:15 am
Hisao Baba: Population History of the Japanese Archipelago from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Modern Age

11:15 am - 11:45 am
Tetsuo Kikuchi: An Archaeological Study of the Formation of Ainu Ethnicity

11:45 am - 12:30 pm
Discussant: Fumiko Ikawa-Smith

12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Lunch Reception



Sabrina Agarwal, Anthropology, UC Berkeley

Hisao Baba, National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo

Peter Bleed, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Chihhua Chiang, Anthropology, UC Berkeley

Gary W. Crawford, University of Toronto

Junko Habu, UC Berkeley

Fumiko Ikawa-Smith, McGill University

Ryuji Ishikawa, Hirosaki University

Tetsuo Kikuchi, Waseda University

Shuzo Koyama, National Museum of Ethnology, Japan

Ikuo Nakamura, Chiba University

Tomokazu Onishi, Archaeology, International University of Kagoshima/UCB Visiting Scholar

David Hurst Thomas, Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History



The symposium "Prehistoric Jomon of Japan and Hunter-Gatherer Lifeways" 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.

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).

From Interstate 80

To reach the campus by car from Interstate 80, exit at the University Avenue off-ramp in Berkeley. Take University Avenue east (toward the hills) approximately two miles until you reach the campus. Turn right on Oxford. Oxford changes names to Fulton Street when you get to Fulton and Kittredge (which is the location of the Institute of East Asian Studies at 2223 Fulton Street).

From Highways 24/13

To reach the campus from Highways 24/13, exit 13 at Tunnel Road in Berkeley. Continue on Tunnel Road as it becomes Ashby. Turn right at College Avenue and drive approximately one mile north to Bancroft Way.

Directions to the campus are also available at visitors/ traveling.html


There are various public parking lots and facilities near campus and in downtown Berkeley. This list includes municipal and privately owned parking lots and garages open to the public. Please consult signs for hours and fees prior to entering the facilities.

More information is available on the UC Berkeley Parking and Transportation page.