Last updated on January 29, 2006

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Japan's Prehistoric World - The Jomon Period    
             Pottery 1- The Early Stage リストマーク
Pottery 2 - The Middle Stage リストマーク
Pottery 3 - The Late Stage リストマーク
Clay Figurines - The Tallest Doll リストマーク
Clay Figurines - The Middle Stage リストマーク
Clay Figurines - The Late and the Final Stages リストマーク
Broken Clay Dolls リストマーク
Use of Lacquer リストマーク
Jomon Sites in My City, Sayama リストマーク
Jomon Patterns リストマーク
Jomon Earrings リストマーク
Other English Websites on Jomon リストマーク


     The Jomon Period is the period when the oldest pottery in Japan known generically Jomon earthenware (straw-rope patterned pottery) was made and used. When did people start to make and use it? To identify the archaeological time of ancient objects, a scientific system called "carbon 14 dating" is widely applied. The system makes use of the characteristic of carbon 14 (radioactive carbon) that it disappears from a dead body at a certain rate according to the lapse of time. When this system was applied, the oldest earthenware in Japan excavated in Fukui Cave in Yoshii-machi, Kitamatsu-ura-gun, Nagasaki Prefecture proved to be 12,000 years old. This result from the scientific identifying system astonished archaeologists because it meant the earthenware was the oldest one in the world that had ever been discovered.  It is known that even in Mesopotamia which is considered to be the birthplace of human civilization, earthenware began to be used 8,000 years ago. Before the discovery of the earthenware in Fukui Cave, it had been generally believed that earthenware was introduced into Japan from West Asia, which was the center of ancient civilization. Considering how long it would have taken to reach Japan, people had estimated it was not before BC 3000 that Jomon pottery began to be used in Japan. Archaeologists' hypothesis was wrong, and the beginning of Jomon Culture was 13,000 years ago. It is also evident now that the culture was unique in its advancement in the world at that time in terms of the use of pottery. This prehistoric period continued for more than ten thousand years, followed by the Yayoi Period. Archaeologists divided it into six sub-periods or stages: the oldest "sousouki", "souki" starting about BC 10000, "zenki" about BC 4000, "chuuki" about BC 3000, "kouki" about BC 2000 and "banki" about BC 1000                                                     .