Pottery of Ancient Japan
The world’s earliest pottery may be from Japan where, at Odai Yamamoto on northern Honshu, shards have been found C14 dated to 13,000 BP, calibrated 16,000 years old, and confirmed by AMS or Accelerated Mass Spectrometer dating. Pottery was also known then in China & the Russian Far East. Compare ancient Jomon pottery [Japan] with Paleoeskimo pottery [Yukon, Canada] & Stallings pottery [Georgia], below.
Early pottery was found at the Kamino site in southwest Japan; shards were found with microblades dated to ca.
16,000 years ago. Early pottery is also known from
Fukui Cave on Kyushu, C14 dated to 12,700 to 12,400 BP
[calibrated ca. 16,000 years old]. Pottery at Sempukuji Cave was dated ca. 13,000 years ago with thermoluminescent dating.
Jomon culture lasted 7,000+ years. The name means cord-marked or “cord pattern,” precisely what was found on their pottery. Jomon people made ceramic vessels plus animal figurines. See many Jomon pots plus a pointed bottom vessel from earliest Jomon, similar to those from Siberia, plus incipient Jomon ovoid pots of Niigata plus and cord-marking.
Explore the pottery of each phase of the Jomon culture:
· Incipient Jomon with plain and decorated pottery
· Earliest Jomon with cord-impressed pots with conical bottoms as well
as shell-impressed and carved-stick-impressed pottery
· Early Jomon with flat-bottomed pottery
· Middle Jomon with its elaborate pottery including flame style as well
as cord-marked pottery of the Middle Jomon
· Late Jomon with more ritual activity, more maritime orientation and
pottery styles such as Horinouchi
· Final Jomon with simpler pottery styles including cord marking
Early Jomon Earthenware Beaker: c. 5000 BP, from exhibit of Japanese art, “Quiet Beauty,” plus a Sue Ware Ewer from the 6th century, more
View earliest & middle Jomon pottery. See initial & early Jomon pots as well as middle Jomon and late Jomon pots. See timeline.
From 5000 to 4000 BP, the Jomon made elaborate ceramics. This pottery of the Middle Jomon includes animal figures. Before and after that, ceramics were more utilitarian in design. Some say that women potters made these ceramics; cord-marked pottery is shown.
The purpose of pottery dogu figurines from the Jomon is unclear.
In 2000 AD, people experimented with making Jomon pottery as well as the process of drying and then firing Jomon pottery.
About 2300 years ago – or perhaps as early as 3000 years ago – the Yayoi people, originally from Northern China and Korea, entered the southern islands with a new culture – and new, plainer ceramic style as seen in this view of Jomon & Yayoi pottery and this of Yayoi ceramics.
About 600 AD on the northern island of Hokkaido, the traditional cord-marked Jomon pottery – including epi-Jomon pottery – gave way to the new Satsumon pottery style, apparently with the start of agriculture. Both the Satsumon & Okhotsk cultures developed their own pottery styles and they may have influenced each other. Both influenced the Ainu.
Periods of Japanese Cultures: differing sequences for Hokkaido for the other islands – Jomon, Satsukon, Okhotsk, Yayoi, for reference
Katherine Bolman, BS, MFA, MEd, MSW, EdD.