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The term jōmon means "cord-patterned" in Japanese. This refers to the pottery style characteristic of the Jōmon culture, and which has markings made using sticks with cords wrapped around them. This period was rich in tools, jewelry, figures and pottery. Recent Y-DNA haplotype testing[when?] has led to the popularly accepted (though untested) hypothesis that haplogroup D2 Y-DNA, which has been found in some percentages of samples of modern Japanese, Ryukyuan, and Ainu males, may reflect patrilineal descent from members of a Jōmon period culture of the Japanese Archipelago. A study based from the Mitochondrial DNA analysis of Jomon skeletons from the Funadomari show the fact that haplogroups N9b and M7a were observed in Hokkaido Jomons bore out the hypothesis that these haplogroups are the (pre-) Jomon contribution to the modern Japanese mtDNA pool, In the study of " Mitochondrial Genome Variation in Eastern Asia and the Peopling of Japan " shows the combined frequency of M7a and N9b in Mainland Japanese average at 9.5%, in Okinawan at 14%, and in the Ainu at 17.7%.
|History of Japan|
"Flame-formed earthenware vessel"
Middle Jōmon (3000–2000 BC)
The Japanese are considered today to be descended from a mixture of the ancient hunter-gatherer Jōmon culture and the later rice agriculture Yayoi culture. These two major ancestral groups came to Japan over different routes at different times. The warming that followed the end of the last Ice Age (12,000 years ago) separated the Japanese archipelago from the Asia mainland, leaving the closest point (in Kyushu) about 120 miles from the Korean Peninsula, near enough to be influenced by continental developments but far enough removed to develop its own ways. Within the archipelago the vegetation was transformed by the end of the Ice Age. In southwestern Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, broadleaf evergreen trees dominated the forests, whereas broadleaf deciduous trees were common in north-eastern Honshu and southern Hokkaido. The latter included many tree species, such as beeches and oaks, that produced edible nuts and acorns. These provided ready sources of food for Jōmon people to gather, store, transport, and consume, and to sustain the animals they hunted.
In the northeast, the plentiful marine life carried south by the Oyashio current, especially salmon, was an additional major source of food. Settlements along both the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean subsisted on immense amounts of shellfish, leaving distinctive middens (mounds of discarded shells and other refuse) that are now prized sources of information for archeologists. Other sources of food meriting special mention include deer, yam-like tubers and other wild plants, and freshwater fish. Supported by the deciduous forests and an abundance of seafood, the population was concentrated in central and northern Honshu, but Jōmon sites range from Hokkaido to the Ryukyu Islands.
Mark J. Hudson, Professor of Anthropology at Nishikyushu University, Kanzaki, Saga, Japan, said Japan was settled by a "Proto-Mongoloid" population in the "Pleistocene" who became the "Jōmon" and their features can be seen in the "Ainu" and "Okinawan" people. The Jomon share many physical characteristics with Caucasians, but Brace says that they are a separate genetic stock and have affinity with the Proto-Mongoloid.
According to archaeological evidence, the Jōmon people created some of the oldest known pottery vessels in the world, known as Jōmon Pottery, dated to the 14th Millenium BC. 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 "rope pattern" and indicating the decoration on most Jōmon earthenware that resembles designs made by rope. The pots were mostly used to eat out of 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.
|This unreferenced section requires citations to ensure verifiability.|
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. The Jōmon people were therefore 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. Recent archaeological surveys of Jōmon settlements from this period have yielded a large amount of data, much of which has been made openly available, and is of great value for the wider study of hunter-gatherer settlement patterns.
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 principal component of genetic variation in Eurasia (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.
Incipient Jōmon (14,000–7500 BC)
Initial Jōmon (7500–4000 BC)
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 BC and 2000 BC), 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 BC, the climate cooled, and populations seem to have contracted dramatically. Comparatively few archaeological sites can be found after 1500 BC.
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 BC, with the first stage lasting from 4000 to 3000 BC. 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 Late Jōmon covered the period of history from around 2000 to 1000 BC, while the Final Jōmon spanned from around 1000 to 300 BC.
By the end of the Jōmon period, a slow 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 religion, 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 outside Hokkaido, where the Jōmon is succeeded by the Zoku-Jōmon (post-Jōmon) period. The Zoku-Jōmon culture is succeeded by the Satsumon culture around the 7th century.
Late Jomon clay statue, Kazahari I, Aomori Prefecture, 1500–1000 BC.
Late Jomon clay head, Shidanai, Iwate Prefecture, 1500–1000 BC.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Jōmon period|
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