Heritage and the Politics of Culture
Co-Authors: Christopher Gillam - Dr, Winthrop University
Japan as shimaguni (island nation) has produced a number of important material cultural artifacts, the preservation of which shows a people living, if not in harmony with nature, then at least in a relationship of management of landscape.
The Jomon Period in Japan (ca. 16,500-3,000 BP) is one of the world’s earliest ceramic-making cultures. The Jomon sustained a hunter-gatherer-fisher (HGF) economy for an extensive period of time until the introduction of the wet rice paddy system from the Asian continent. Three major factors characterize the Jomon cultural landscape: pottery, shell mounds, and stone/wood monuments. This paper will discuss the roles these elements played in the alteration of the landscape.
First, despite the early emergence of pottery, ceramics dramatically increased in quantity and came into daily use only after a sedentary lifestyle became widespread in the Early Holocene. As firing pottery requires substantial firewood, pottery uptake must have produced considerable pressure on local environments, fostering a complex use of resources. Second, large-scale shell mounds followed the development of pottery, probably functioning as landmarks to strengthen social bonds of local communities. Finally, stone/wood monuments were the last to appear, when the Jomon society expanded into previously unused settings, such as alluvial flatlands and deep mountains. All of these are closely related to the perception, management and alteration of the Jomon environment and cultural landscape. In the presence of shell-mounds we see the important role played by the sea and its materials.