Field trip: Views of the Otsu, a fortified village of the Yayoi Period

Otsuka is a village settlement of the Yayoi Period

Otsuka is a village settlement of the Yayoi Period (300 BC – 300 AD)

The excavated ruins site is located on top of a hill in what is today's modern Yokohama ...

The excavated ruins site is located on top of a hill in what is today’s modern Yokohama …

The palisades and battlements can be seen (reconstructed based on the excavated artefacts)

The palisades and battlements can be seen (reconstructed based on the excavated artefacts)

The village people dug ditches and a moat surrounded the fortified village

The village people dug ditches and a moat surrounded the fortified village

The need for such intensive labour indicated  there may have been intermittent times of strife and tension from raiders or bandits

The need for such intensive labour indicated there may have been intermittent times of strife and tension from raiders or bandits

The villagers inside the fortified village lived in thatched homes not unlike the pit-homes of the earlier Jomon settlements

The villagers inside the fortified village lived in thatched homes not unlike the pit-homes of the earlier Jomon settlements

A closeup of the Yayoi villager's residence

A closeup of the Yayoi villager’s residence

Inside one of the thatched houses...

Inside one of the thatched houses…

This is house is much larger than the others, and may have been the village chief's home

This is house is much larger than the others, and may have been the village chief’s home

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After the lapse of around two thousand years, the excavated village site consists of merely excavated ruins and dug-up artefacts,  most of the biodegradeable building materials have rotted away by now. However, the post-holes help archaeologists to reconstruct the original scene

After the lapse of around two thousand years, the excavated village site consists of merely excavated ruins and dug-up artefacts, most of the biodegradeable building materials have rotted away by now. However, the post-holes help archaeologists to reconstruct the original scene

Besides residences, there are storehouses built on piles or wooden stilts

Besides residences, there are rice storehouses …

Raised from the  ground, they are built on piles or wooden stilts

Raised from the ground, they are built on piles or wooden stilts

The "legs" of the rice storehouses have mice-guards that prevent fieldmice from  climbing up to raid the storehouses

The “legs” of the rice storehouses have mice-guards that prevent fieldmice from climbing up to raid the storehouses

There are a fair number of these storehouses, indicating a prosperous settlement

There are a fair number of these storehouses, indicating a well-off settlement

The nearby burial site gives many clues about the settlement's inhabitants' lives

The nearby burial site gives many clues about the settlement’s inhabitants’ lives

Ditches were dug and aligned squares ...

Ditches were dug and aligned squares …

Probably each square plot was allocated to a family

A wooden coffin was lowered into the centre of some of the mounds, signifying an elite's burial

A wooden coffin was lowered into the centre of some of the mounds, signifying an elite’s burial

The graves were neatly aligned and covered up, indicating care and thought

The graves were neatly aligned and covered up, indicating care and thought

Urn burials of other members in the ditches on the edges of the square mound was the norm

Urn burials of other members in the ditches on the edges of the square mound was the norm

Two pottery jars were used to hold the dead's remains, one inverted over the other

Two pottery jars were used to hold the dead’s remains, one inverted over the other

Smaller jars were used for children's remains

Smaller jars were used for children’s remains

Village life for the most part must have been serene ...

Village life for the most part must have been serene …

They mourned and cared for their dead and gave them proper rites and burials

They wove their own clothes, built or repaired and rethatched their own homes

...following seasonal rhythms and activities

…followed seasonal rhythms and activities

Weaving was considered sacred work of maidens

Such as weaving which was considered sacred work of maidens

... making pottery

Pottery-making was also the domain of females

Assorted pottery from the site

An assortment of pottery was made, but the forms became much simpler than the ornate forms of the previous Jomon Period (the site was continuously inhabited from Jomon times)

...including this anthropomorphic vessel with a quirky-looking face

This anthropomorphic vessel with a quirky-looking face was recovered from the site

Types of pottery from the site

Types of pottery from the site

Large deer bones excavated from the site indicate divination was practised

Large deer bones excavated from the site indicate divination was practised

Ritual and shamanic magic, divination and fortune-telling was normal for the Yayoi society

Ritual and shamanic magic, divination and fortune-telling was normal for the Yayoi society

Imagining life in Yayoi times (painting display by the Otsu Village Historical Museum)

Imagining life in Yayoi times (painting display by the Otsu Village Historical Museum)

For more details on an excavated Yayoi moated settlement, read the detailed report on the Asahi site, Aichi prefecture.

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