Pottery was made by coiling clay into desired shape and then applying various patterns by impressing cords or other things over the surface.
It is this early discovery that provides a mainstay in defining the characteristics of Jōmon culture. And, it provides a valuable insight to the lives and artistic expressions of these special people.
Jōmon culture and there pottery is roughly contemporary with civilizations in Mesopotamia, the Nile, and the Indus Valley. It is amongst the earliest pottery cultures of the world. When the pottery was dry. They baked the pieces in the fire and sun to almost 900 celsius (1650f).
The Jōmon period is the earliest known period of Japanese history and is characterized by not just pottery. But other things. Japans Jōmon era coincides with climate change. Beginning around 10,000 BC. Sea levels rose. During this time. The Japanese archipelago begin to separate from the Asian continent. 14,000 BCE to 300 BC (16,000 to 2300 years ago), was a long time for an ancient and prehistoric culture.
The Jōmon people rely on hunting, fishing, and food gathering for survival. Wild animals, fish and gathering wild plants for sustenance. They resided in pit dwellings arranged around a central open space, which are increasingly arranged in settled communities. They were mostly hunter-gatherers who lived in small, semi-sedentary communities. They used stone tools, bone implements, and antler tools for various tasks. The Jōmon people also engaged in some rudimentary forms of agriculture, cultivating plants such as millet and beans.
In addition to pottery, and pit houses. The Jōmon culture left behind other archaeological evidence, including shell mounds, stone circles, and clay figurines known as dogu. These figurines depict human-like and animal-like forms and are considered some of the oldest known examples of clay sculpture in the world.
Initial Jōmon 8000 to 5000 BC
By this period, the gradual climatic warming sufficiently raised sea levels. Southern islands of Shikoku and Shikoku and Kyūshū were separated from the main island of Honshū. Though its believed, that the temperature rises increased the food supply. There were more sea as well as by hunted animals and plant, seed and fruit gathering. Evidence of this diet is found in ancient refuse heaps, near mines or where there were shell mounds. Other necessities of life were acquired and processed during this time, like others, using stone tools: grinding rocks, knives, axes and more.
Early Jōmon 5000 to 2500 BC
Findings of more large shell mounds around Jōmon communities vindicate these people ate a high percentage of ocean fauna. Similarities between pottery produced in Kyūshū and contemporary Korea suggest that regular commerce existed between the Japanese islands and the Korean peninsula. By this time. Most were living in square-shaped pithouses that were clustered in small villages. A variety of handicrafts, including cord-marked earthenware cooking and storage vessels, woven baskets, bone needles, and stone tools, were produced for daily use.
Middle Jōmon 2500 to 1500 BC
Middle Jōmon may have been population and a neolithic craftsmans high point. Pollen and archaeological studies show, warmer climates may have peaked as well. Causing a movement of communities into the mountain regions. Almost 4000 years ago. Refuse heaps during indicate people were sedimentary for longer periods during this time. They lived in larger communities. Fishing, and hunting animals such as deer, bear, rabbit, and duck. Early attempts at plant cultivation may date to this period. The increased production of female figurines and phallic images of stone. Deceased were found in shell mounds. Suggesting a rise in ritual practices. They also gathered nuts, berries, mushrooms, and parsley.
Late Jōmon 1500 to 1000 BC
As the climate began to cool, the population migrated out of the mountains and settled closer to the coast, especially along Honshus eastern shores. Greater reliance on seafood inspired innovations like fishing technology. They developed a toggle harpoon, continued to innovate deep-sea fishing techniques. Vindicated by similarities among artifacts. These processes brought communities into closer contact. Circular ceremonial sites comprised of assembled stones, in some cases numbering in the thousands. Again, a larger numbers of figurines. Show a continued increase in the importance and enactment of rituals. During the Late Jōmon era.
Final Jōmon 1000 to 300 BC
At this point the climate continued to cool. Food became less abundant and the population declined dramatically. Because of this. People were assembled in smaller groups, and regional differentiations became more pronounced. As part of the transition to Yayoi culture, it’s believed rice domestication, grown in dry beds or swamps, were introduced.
Though thousands of years, the Jōmon culture went through several phases and variations. Towards the end. Influences from Asia began to reach them. And begin the transition to the Yayoi period. Characterized by the introduction of rice cultivation, metalworking, and new cultural elements.
The Jōmon culture holds significant historical and cultural importance in Japan. It represents ancient roots of Japanese civilization. And, it contributes to the understanding of the country’s earliest developments. Lets hear it for Jōmon. You might say neolithic Japan. There contributions to culture. Including pottery and artifacts. Continue to be studied to this day. And, they provide valuable insights to lifestyles and artistic achievements inevitable. By and thru in and thru out, these early inhabitants of the place we now call Japan.
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