2. Amazing Jomon Japan

Archaeologists and historians worldwide are fascinated with thousands of artefacts that have been dug up all over Japan that belonged to and that tell us about the prehistoric people we call the Jomon people.


Skeleton unearthed in Oya is possibly Jomon era’s earliest


Who were the Jomon people and where did they live?

The Jomon people were hunter-gathers who lived in pit dwellings and who lived roughly in the area that we call Japan today.  The Jomon culture is noted for having produced the earliest (or at least among the earliest) pottery in the world.

When did they live?

The Jomon people lived during postglacial times from 13,680 BC to 410 BC. They were a hunting-gathering-fishing tribal culture that existed roughly around the times of ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, the Nile and the Indus Valley.

Pot with flame-like ornamentation, Umataka, Nagaoka city, Niigata (Jomon 3,000-2000 BC)

What was so amazing about the Jomon culture?

#1. One thing amazing about the Jomon culture is how long the Jomon way of life lasted … over 13,000 thousand years as well as the early date of the beginning of the period.

#2. The Jomon people are thought to have produced the oldest surviving examples of pottery in the world.

#3. Jomon people achieved sedentism which means they settled down in one place to live as early as 9,000 years ago and maintained a high level of craft production…all very unusual for hunter-gatherers in early postglacial times.

#4. Archaeologists think the Jomon hunting-gathering culture was unusual because although it was a stone age culture (historians call prehistoric people who used stone tools a Mesolithic culture), it also had some highly complex characteristics of Neolithic cultures which usually refer to people who:

  • made many clay vessels,

  • had an organized and sophisticated lifestyle of collecting and foraging for food and practiced a simple kind of agriculture by cultivating a small number of plants.

“That end of the Ice Age was accompanied by the first of the two most decisive changes in the Japanese history: the invention of pottery. In the usual experience of archeologists, inventions flow from mainlands to islands, and small peripheral societies aren’t supposed to contribute revolutionary advances to the rest of the world. It therefore astonished archeologists to discover that the world’s oldest known pottery was made in Japan 12,700 years ago,” said Jared Diamond, a non-fiction science author.

Dogu or pottery figurine from Muroran city, Hokkaido

What is the Jomon culture famous for?

Jomon culture is most famous for its pottery — Jomon pottery pieces are possibly the earliest existing pottery artefacts, or at least among the earliest pottery discoveries in the world. Jomon culture is also well known for the expressiveness of its ceramic art, for the variety of surface textures, decorations, shapes and styles.

Jar with human figure ornamentation, Tokoshinai, Hirosaki city, Aomori Prefecture

The most elaborate forms of pottery made in the deep central mountainous areas are especially admired. In fact, the Jomon culture takes its name from a typical form of decoration of its pots, cord marking which is called Jomon 縄文 in Japanese.

The different periods of the Jomon era are divided according to the different characteristics of pottery of each period, see this Chronology here.

The Jomon culture is also renowned for the fishing technology. The fishhooks and togglehead harpoons that the Jomon hunters used to catch fish and sea mammals with, were state-of-the-art technology, for prehistoric times that is.

Harpoon heads, Late Jomon era (Kawasaki City Museum)

[Photos of pottery and figurines from Sagamihara City Museum and harpoon heads from Kawasaki City Museum are copyright of A. Kawagoe.]


11 responses to “2. Amazing Jomon Japan

  1. paul a. skillman


  2. Thank you, very much! This is an EXCELLENT reference for ancient Japan, displaying a wide range of information on subjects very hard to research elsewhere. The Britannica, Wikipedia, and online libraries, Google included, have not been able to match this site in my research.

    Keep up the awesome work! 🙂

  3. Frank Jesudian

    Is the Jomon period related to the Dravidian culture (Indus Valley)/
    Frank Jesudian

    • There are some genetic commonalities between the Indian populations and Jomon as well as post-Jomon era (especially CAS-Indo-Aryan, Silk Route and Buddhism connections) Japanese populations. And more on the mtDNA side. “Haplogroups H, F*, and O2a, which were observed at significantly higher proportions among tribal groups of South India, led the same authors to single them out as having an indigenous Indian origin. Only O3e was envisaged as originating (recently) east of India (20), substantiating a linguistic correlation with the TB speakers of Southeast Asia” Source: A Prehistory of Indian Y Chromosomes http://www.pnas.org/content/103/4/843.full. Stephen Oppenheimer also suggests very convincingly in his book with many lines of support that there are a Island SEA or Sundaland lineages that radiated out to India and elsewhere, including Japan. There are also many anthropological and archaeological similarities – myths and legends, mother earth deity/figurines / phallic implements – dolmens. M130 lineage is thought to have reached Japan from India. Beyond that, deep Austronesian or Austro-Asiatic as well as Central Asian migratory lineages may have close connections, but all of these still need further clarifying.

  4. Yay! Thank you! I’m doing a SA on The Jomon Pottery at school, and this was really quite helpful!

  5. Pingback: WHO ARE THE JOMON PEOPLE? | Okunomichi

  6. To me, the most amazing craft by Jomon people is the Megami (Venus) of Jomon found Tohoku recently.

    This looks so modern, and you would not be surprised if somebody said this is a modern statue in Louvre. And what’s more, she is wearing a trousers !!


  7. The dna extracted from the oldest human bones found in the Qafzeh & Skhul caves in Fin-koo Kanahn or Phoenicia Canaan or Yisrael or or Palestine prove, 3 waves of L1, L2 & L3 dna Black tribes successfully left out of Black Land (OOBL), migrated to, and became the very 1st inhabitants of Fin-koo Kanahn.

  8. Nimrod and the conglomeration then proceeded to build the:

    L1 dna Black Sumerian Empire
    L1 dna Black Babylonian Empire
    L2 dna Black Akkadian Empire
    L3 dna Black Erekkian Empire

    These Matriarchal Black Kingdoms are the original Matriarchal Black Civilizations of Mesopatamia.

  9. Black Daughter M2’s Black descendants left up out Black Land, and from living in a slightly different environment than Black Land morphed / turned into the:

    M2a Black Afro-Asiatic India
    M3 Black Afro-Asiatic S.E. Asians
    M4 Black (non-Muslim) Aurabs
    M5 Black Austro-Asiatic Khmer Khassi
    M7 Black (Central) Japanese Jomon
    M7b / M7c / M7e Black Laotians
    M7c3c Black Philippinoes
    M8 Black Chinese
    M9 Black Tibet
    M11 Black Bangladesh
    M23 Black Madagascar, my
    M27, M28, M29 Black Papua N.Guinea
    M42 Black Australians
    M48 Black (non-Muslim) Aurabs

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