In the news: Carp farming during the Yayoi Period

Friday, Sept. 19, 2008  Japan Times
Carp farming may date to Yayoi: study

OTSU, Shiga Pref. (Kyodo) People in the Yayoi Period might have engaged in carp farming to provide sustenance during the winter, a group of researchers said Thursday, based on a recent study of fossils of young carp teeth discovered at a major archaeological site.

News photo
No tooth decay: Fossilized carp teeth unearthed from the Asahi settlement site in Aichi Prefecture suggest the existence of carp farming during the Yayoi Period. KYODO PHOTO

According to the group, the find at the Asahi site in Aichi Prefecture, a huge moated settlement that existed from the fourth century B.C. to the fourth century A.D., suggests it engaged in what would be the earliest known form of carp farming in Japan.

“I suppose Yayoi people released carp in the spawning season into rice fields, moats or ponds, and that the fish produced eggs — primitive farming probably started in such a way,” said Tsuneo Nakajima, a senior curator specializing in fish ecology at the Lake Biwa Museum in Shiga Prefecture, which analyzed the fossils.

“In addition to adult fish caught in rivers, Yayoi people must have dried young fish they had bred to preserve for winter sustenance,” he said.

The finding is also significant because people in the Yayoi Period were thought to have procured food mainly through hunting and gathering, the researchers said.

Carp teeth were found in remains from the earlier Jomon Period but did not include those of young carp, which indicates Jomon people were unlikely to have engaged in fish farming.

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