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Unformatted text preview: f, which lasted until about 400–300
b.c., the Jòmon or, literally, “rope pattern” age.
The Jòmon Japanese were primarily hunters, gatherers, and fishers.
They tended to move about with the seasons, although later in the age
they established at least semipermanent settlements. Many Jòmon settlements were near the coast, where their inhabitants had easy access
to food from the sea, especially shellfish, which they consumed voraciously. Jòmon remains were first discovered in modern times by an
American, E. S. Morse, who in 1877 uncovered “kitchen middens” (the
garbage mounds or refuse heaps of primitive people) at Òmori south of
Tokyo. Because these middens were composed largely of discarded shells,
archaeologists called them “shell mounds” (kaizuka). These mounds are
of great value for several reasons. In addition to providing information
about the diet of the Jòmon people (for example, there are many bones
of small animals as well as shells in the mounds) they also contain tools,
pottery, and other objects of Jòmon life.
Jòmon people lived first in caves and later in shallow pits covered with The Emergence of Japanese Civilization 3 Fig. 1 Jòmon pottery (courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum) thatching. These pit dwellings (tateana) were uniformly small—a typical
tateana was about two feet deep and fifteen feet in diameter—and could
accommodate at most four or five people (that is, a nuclear family).
Jòmon graves were also small; indeed they were merely holes into which
bodies, in flexed or fetal position, were inserted. Along with the pit dwellings, these unpretentious graves provide proof that New Stone Age society
in Japan was essentially classless.
Among the most striking objects from the Jòmon age are earthenware
figurines, known as dogû, that in their distorted representations of halfhuman, half-beastlike beings seem to be the creation of minds absorbed
with superstition and primitive magic (fig. 2). A number of dogû depict
female creatures with prominent breasts and pregnant stomachs, phy...
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- Spring '13