Japan Archaeology Part I
Archeology dates back in Japan to 1878, when heaps of shells found in Omori, between Tokyo and Yokohama, together with fragments of terracotta and stone objects allow, also on the basis of subsequent finds, to ascertain the existence in the archipelago of a Neolithic culture, which is believed to go from the 5th millennium to around the 3rd century BC. Christ. It is called Jōmon (drawing-rope), from the terracotta decoration obtained mostly by impressing a rope. The terracotta is handmade and has a great variety of shapes. In 1884, terracotta of different types were found in Yayoi, in a district of Tokyo, which were associated with bronze and iron objects. The period, or culture, to which they belong is called Yayoi, and goes from around the 2nd century BC. C. to the 3rd d. Christ. Centers of study and research soon began to be established at Japanese universities, but only in 1916 was the first chair of archeology created at the Imperial University of Kyoto, to which prof. Hamada Kosaku, a well-known archaeologist. Excavation campaigns carried out since 1949 mainly in Moro (Tokyo), Chausuyama and Kawakami (pref. Of Nagano), ascertain the existence of a Paleolithic or Mesolithic culture without terracotta, preceding the Jōmon one and in a relationship of continuity with it.
Traces of dwellings have been found of the Jōmon, in greater numbers along the Pacific coast and in the central mountains; they are of two types, quadrangular, circular or oval, and level, surmounted by a roof supported by poles. Many of the first type have been found in the excavations carried out around 1950 in Hiraide (pref. Of Nagano), together with a large quantity of finds, including clay figurines, which appear more and more numerous starting from the middle Jōmon; many are feminine, connected to the cult of motherhood and fertility of a people who already show a remarkable aesthetic sense. The Jōmon man practices hunting and fishing; for the first he uses bows, arrows, and spears; for the second harpoon, bone hooks and even nets; from the middle Jōmon has perhaps started some form of cultivation.
According to HARVARDSHOES, the Yayoi culture was born, under the impulse of stimuli from the north-east of the Asian continent, in northern Kyushu, and gradually extends towards the north-east, overlapping and replacing the Jōmon one. Characteristics are a terracotta made with a wheel, more sober, with minimal or no design, and the coexistence of bronze and iron, with the latter predominating. Wood is also widely used, in the processing of which the use of iron brings considerable progress (see finds in Karako, pref. Of Nara, and Toro, pref. Of Shizuoka). Iron are axes, planes, agricultural tools such as hoes and sickles, arrowheads, spears, etc. The latter are also found among bronze objects, some imported, others manufactured in Japan such as, for example, dull blades for ceremonial use, of which a mold has been found in northern Kyushu, and the d ō taku, sacred objects typical of Japan, in the shape of a flattened bell, with hunting scenes, houses, etc., sometimes in relief. The Yayoi period marks the beginning of agriculture, especially rice cultivation, probably introduced from the mainland into Kyushu along with the metal culture. Its existence, initially indicated by the imprints of cereal grains stuck to terracotta, is then confirmed by findings of charred rice, agricultural tools, and finally by paths of rice fields. The Yayoi man is therefore a farmer, while continuing to hunt and fish like his predecessor of the Jōmon; it descends into the plains from the hills on which the other lived, but continues the type of pit and level dwelling, with thatched roofs and branches. Excavations conducted since 1947 in Toro (Shizuoka) have unearthed what could be a representative community: a group of eleven dwellings with two raised floor constructions, believed to be grain warehouses, and thirty-three rice paddies with embankments, paths and irrigation canals. The dead are buried in different ways, but mainly in tombs made with stone slabs, of Korean origin and without funerary equipment or with funerary equipment in large terracotta urns, which have only slight similarities with those in Korea and Northeast Asia; on these is sometimes placed a large boulder surrounded by smaller stones. The different quality of the objects found in the tombs (mirrors, coins, swords, spears, ornaments, etc.) and the discovery in northern Kyushu (Hie,
The Yayoi culture is superimposed on it, starting from the second half of the 3rd century AD. C., a new one, which includes protohistory and the beginnings of history; in archeology it takes its name from the kofun, the mound tombs that characterize it, and reaches at least the entire 7th century. The Kofuns they appear first of all in the plain of Yamato, in Kinai, precisely towards the end of the 3rd century, and then spread to the south-west and north-east, beyond the area of Tokyo. Location and time coincide with those in which the formation process of a unitary state takes place, the so-called kingdom of Yamato, and suggest the presence in the area of a group in possession of a superior culture and military strength, which had perhaps moved from southwest (Kyushu) to northeast, gradually expanding its domain, as required by historical tradition and literary sources.