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Worldvisitguide > Jomon period
History of Japan : Jomon periodapprox. between the XIVth century B.C. and 300 (Japon)
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The Jōmon period (縄文時代 - Jōmon jidai) is the time in Japanese prehistory from about 14,000 BCE to 300 BCE.

The term "Jōmon" means "cord-patterned" in Japanese. It refers to the markings made on clay vessels and figures using sticks with cords wrapped around them which are characteristic of the Jōmon people.

Incipient and initial Jōmon (14,000/4000 BCE)
More stable living patterns gave rise by around 14,000 BCE to a Mesolithic or, as some scholars argue, Neolithic culture, but with some characteristics of both. Possibly distant ancestors of the Ainu aboriginal people of modern Japan, members of the heterogeneous Jōmon culture (c. 14,000/300 BC) left the clearest archaeological record.

Early pottery
According to archaeological evidence, the Jōmon people created amongst the first known pottery vessels in the world, known as Jōmon Pottery, dated to the 14th millennium BCE, as well as the earliest ground stone tools. The antiquity of this pottery was first identified after the Second World War, through radiocarbon dating methods.

Archaeologist Junko Habu claims that "The majority of Japanese scholars believed, and still believe, that pottery production was first invented in mainland Asia and subsequently introduced into the Japanese archipelago." and explains that "A series of excavations in the Amur River Basin in the 1980s and 1990s revealed that pottery in this region may be as old as, if not older than, Fukui Cave pottery".

The Jōmon era pottery was called "Jōmon doki", the first word meaning itself "patterns of rope", because decoration on most earthware resembled designs made by rope. The pots were mostly used to eat in or store food. The Jōmon people also made clay figures and vessels decorated with patterns of a growing sophistication made by impressing the wet clay with braided or unbraided cord and sticks.

Neolithic traits
The manufacturing of pottery typically implies some form of sedentary life due to the fact that pottery is highly breakable and thus generally useless to hunter-gatherers who are constantly on the move. Therefore, the Jōmon people were probably some of the earliest sedentary or at least semi-sedentary people in the world. They used chipped stone tools, ground stone tools, traps, and bows, and were probably semi-sedentary hunters-gatherers and skillful coastal and deep-water fishermen. They practiced a rudimentary form of agriculture and lived in caves and later in groups of either shallow pit dwellings or above-ground houses, leaving rich middens for modern archaeological study.

Population expansion
This semi-sedentary culture led to important population increases, so that the Jōmon exhibit some of the highest densities known for foraging populations. Genetic mapping studies by Cavalli-Sforza have shown a pattern of genetic expansion from the area of the Sea of Japan towards the rest of eastern Asia. This appears as the third most important genetic movement in Eastern Asia (after the "Great expansion" from the African continent, and a second expansion from the area of Northern Siberia), which suggests geographical expansion during the early Jōmon period. These studies also suggest that the Jōmon demographic expansion may have reached America along a path following the Pacific coast.

Main periods
Incipient Jōmon (14,000 BCE/7500 BCE)
- Linear applique
- Nail impression
- Cord impression
- Muroya lower

Initial Jōmon (7500 BCE/4000 BCE)
- Igusa
- Inaridai
- Mito
- Lower Tado
- Upper Tado
- Shiboguchi
- Kayama

Early to Final Jōmon (4000/300 BCE)
The Early and Middle Jōmon periods saw an explosion in population, as indicated by the number of settlements from this period. These two periods occurred during the prehistoric Holocene Climatic Optimum (between 4000 BCE and 2000 BCE), when temperatures reached several degrees Celsius higher than the present, and mean sea level was higher by 5 to 6 metres. Beautiful artistic realisations, such as highly decorated "flamed" vessels, remain from that time. After 1500 BCE, the climate cooled, and populations seem to have contracted dramatically. Comparatively few archaeological sites can be found after 1500 BCE.

The Early Jōmon is the first stage in the Jomon era of Japanese pre-history. The Jomon period itself ranged from 10,000 to 300 BCE, with the first stage lasting from 4000 to 3000 BCE. The Early Jomon is characterized by the high sea level (2 to 3 meters higher than the modern day) and a significant population increase. This period saw a rise in complexity in the design of pit houses, the most commonly used method of housing at the time. The Middle Jōmon covers the period of Jōmon history from 3000 to 2000 BCE. Following the Early Jōmon period, the Middle Jōmon periods saw an explosion in population, as indicated by the number of excavations from this period.

The Late Jōmon covered the period of history from around 2000 to 1000 BCE, while the Final Jōmon spanned from around 1000 to 300 BCE.

By the end of the Jōmon period, a dramatic shift had taken place according to archaeological studies. New arrivals from the continent seem to have invaded Japan from the West, bringing with them new technologies such as rice farming and metallurgy. The settlements of the new arrivals seem to have coexisted with those of the Jōmon for some time. Under these influences, the incipient cultivation of the Jōmon evolved into sophisticated rice-paddy farming. Many other elements of Japanese culture also may date from this period and reflect a mingled migration from the northern Asian continent and the southern Pacific areas. Among these elements are Shinto mythology, marriage customs, architectural styles, and technological developments such as lacquerware, textiles, laminated bows, metalworking, and glass making. The Jōmon is succeeded by the Yayoi period.

Main periods

- Middle Jōmon (3000/2000 BCE):
- Katsusaka/Otamadai,
- Kasori E1,
- Kasori E2.

- Late Jōmon (2000/1000 BCE):
- Horinouchi,
- Kasori B1,
- Kasori B2,
- Angyo 1

-Final Jōmon (1000/300 BCE):

-Tohoku District
- Oubora B
- Oubora BC(Ōfunato, Iwate)
- Oubora C1
- Oubora C2
- Oubora A
- Oubora A'

- Kanto District
- Angyo 2(Kawaguchi, Saitama)
- Angyo 3

From Wikipedia
Text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation


Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
Censer-shaped vessel
Jomon period
approx. from 1000 to 300 B.C.
Clay figure
Jomon period
approx. from 1000 to 300 B.C.
Clay figure
Jomon period
approx. from 1000 to 300 B.C.
Jomon period
approx. from 2500 to 1500 B.C.
Jomon period
approx. from 2500 to 1500 B.C.
Jomon period
approx. from 2500 to 1500 B.C.
Spouted vessel
Jomon period
approx. from 1000 to 300 B.C.