In the news: Bones unearthed near Okinoshima show that dolphins were being fished for about 1,000 years in the early Jomon period between about 6,500 B.C. and 7,500 B.C off Tateyama coast of Chiba prefecture

Jomon Fishing Site Discovered
Mar 29, 2004 | Yomiuri Shimbun

Jomon fishing site discovered

Yomiuri Shimbun

Bones unearthed near Okinoshima in Tateyama show that between about 6,500 B.C. and 7,500 B.C., dolphins were being fished off the coast of what now is part of Chiba Prefecture.

As well as indicating that dolphins were being fished for about 1,000 years in the early Jomon period (ca 10,000 B.C.-ca 300 B.C.), objects found at the site gave researchers clues about the natural environment 8,000 years ago.

“We found lots of valuable data, as well as learning lots about the natural environment during the early Jomon period, when the climate was gradually warming up after the last ice age,” said Prof. Seiichi Yanagisawa of Chiba University’s faculty of letters, who led the research.

Although the area excavated was only about 20 square meters, a number of artifacts dating from the middle of the early Jomon period were unearthed, including 8,000-year-old earthenware, an obsidian arrowhead and stone implements used for stripping bones and skin. The remains of an early Jomon fire also were uncovered.

Bones apparently belonging to a fully grown dolphin that measured about 2.5 meters in length also were found mingled with the man-made items.

“There is what looks like an underwater valley in Tateyama Bay in which Jomon fishermen probably used to corner dolphins before catching them,” Yanagisawa said.

“The bones we dug up probably belonged to a dolphin that had been cut up after being caught in that way,” he added.

Excavation work on the Okinoshima site, which was jointly carried out by Awa Museum in Tateyama and the archeology department of Chiba University, started on April 30 last year and continued until May 6.

Researchers are planning to carry out a second dig on the same site this autumn to get an even more detailed picture of life there 8,000 years ago.

The dig was only possible because the area of Tateyama Bay around Okinoshima, which used to be an island, was joined to the mainland by the Genroku Kanto Earthquake of 1703 and the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, which caused the ground level to rise, according to Yanagisawa.

It is rare to be able to excavate Jomon sites of archeological interest that were near the sea during that period because most sites of that kind are now beneath sea level, the professor said.

“There are lots of Jomon remains around Tateyama because ground that used to be below sea level is now above sea level,” said Tozo Okamoto, who is also a professor in Chiba University’s faculty of letters, and who has investigated a separate set of remains about two kilometers southeast of Okinoshima.

“From a second dig, we should get an even clearer picture of what daily life and the natural environment were like during the Jomon period,” he said

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