Maedakochi site: Jomon village life during the Incipient Jomon Period

Maedakochi site and the recreated landscape of Tama Hills during the Incipient Jomon Period (Photo: Heritage of Japan)

First things first…

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I have begun a series on the Jomon Village Historic Garden of the Tama Hills (which I have visited probably over 10 times!). Archaeologists have excavated 770 out of the 964 sites from the Tama Hills (aka the Tama New Town to locals). A “Jomon village” based on settlement traces was recreated, with archaeological exhibits from 40 years of diggings on display at the adjacent Exhibition Hall run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Archaeological Center.

Archaeological sites of the Tama Hills which straddles the cities of Tama Machida, Inagi and Hachioji today. The red star is the location of the Jomon Village / Tokyo Metropolitan Archaeological Center’s Exhibition hall

People began living in this area around 32,000 years ago, towards the end of the Ice Age when the climate was colder and more like Hokkaido’s, and when people hunted game such as Giant Elk and Naumann elephants, salmon from the rivers and large animals that lived in the coniferous forests. (They left behind stone tools and burnt stones from their fires, but I will post in another episode about the Upper Palaeolithic traces and remains, because the focus of this post is the Jomon people from the Maedakochi site).

The Maedakochi site (see photo at the top of the page) is currently the central exhibit being featured at the Exhibition Hall of the Jomon Village.

The discovery of the Maedakochi site is an important one as it is one of the earliest sites of the Jomon people belonging to the Incipient Jomon Period radiocarbon dated to 15,500 years ago. Being at the transition phase between the Upper Paleolithic and the Neolithic Jomon Period, the excavation of the site reveals important clues to neolithic lifestyles, such as why early pottery was invented and what the ceramic pots contained and were used for. Numerous salmon teeth and bones were found at the site too. Much recent literature has emerged based on analysis of the archaeological evidence from this site, indicating that the Jomon neolithic package likely was part of an entire Aquatic Neolithic complex extending to Sakhalin Island and to the Russian Far East Amur region. To know more, read the rest at The earliest Jomon developed and used pottery for fishing salmon and molluscs 15,500 years ago

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