Jōmon pottery

The Jōmon pottery (縄文土器 Jōmon doki) is a type of ancient earthenware pottery which was made during the Jōmon period in Japan. The term "Jōmon" (縄文) means "rope-patterned" in Japanese, describing the patterns that are pressed into the clay.

Incipient Jomon rope pottery 10000–8000 BCE
Middle Jomon Period rope pottery 5000-4000BC
Middle Jomon Period rope pottery 5000–4000 BCE
Jomon Vessel with Flame-like Ornamentation, attributed provenance Umataka, Nagaoka-shi, Niigata, Jomon period, 3000-2000 BC - Tokyo National Museum - DSC05620
Jomon vessel 3000–2000 BCE, Flame-style Pottery(Flamboyant Ceramic, Kaen-doki)


Oldest pottery in Japan

The pottery vessels crafted in Ancient Japan during the Jōmon period are generally accepted to be the oldest pottery in Japan and among the oldest in the world.[1]


Odai Yamamoto I site in Aomori Prefecture currently has the oldest pottery in Japan. Excavations in 1998 uncovered forty-six earthenware fragments which have been dated as early as 14,500 BC (ca 16,500 BP); this places them among the earliest pottery currently known.[2] This appears to be plain, undecorated pottery. Such a date puts the development of pottery before the warming at the end of the Pleistocene.

'Linear-relief' pottery was also found at Fukui Cave Layer III dating to 13,850–12,250 BC. This site is located in Nagasaki prefecture, Kyushu. Both linear-relief, and 'nail-impressed' pottery were found at Torihama shell mound, in Fukui prefecture, dating to 12000-11000 BC.[3]

Bits of pottery discovered in a cave in the northwest coast of modern-day Kyushu date back to as far as 12,700 BCE in radiometric dating tests.[4]

It is believed by many that Jōmon pottery was probably made even earlier than this date. However, due to ambiguity and multiple sources claiming different dates based on different dating techniques, it is difficult to say for sure how far back Jōmon Pottery was made. Some sources claim archaeological discoveries as far back as the 14th millennium BCE.[1][5]


The Jōmon Period in Ancient Japan lasted until roughly 300 BCE. From there, it is divided into six periods: Incipient Jōmon, from 10,500–8,000 BCE, Earliest Jōmon, from 8,000–5,000 BCE, Early Jōmon, from 5,000–2,500 BCE, Middle Jōmon, from 2,500- 1,500 BCE, Late Jōmon, from 1,500–1,000 BCE, and Final Jōmon, from 1,000–300 BCE.[6] There are over 80 sites in Japan where Incipient Jōmon pottery vessels have been found,[5][7] but the majority of Jōmon pottery remains come from the later periods.

It was later followed by the Yayoi pottery.


The majority of Jōmon pottery has rounded bottoms and the vessels are typically small. This shows that the vessels would typically be used to boil food, perhaps fitting into a fire.[8] Later Jōmon pottery pieces are more elaborate, especially during the Middle Jōmon period, where the rims of pots became much more complex and decorated.[4]

The name Jōmon itself means “rope-patterned”. This refers to the impressions on the surface of the pottery which were created by pressing rope into the clay before it was heated to approximately 600–900 degrees Celsius.[4]

A specific type of clay figurines produced during this period are the dogū.

See also


  1. ^ a b Craig, O.E; Saul, H. "Earliest evidence for the use of pottery". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature12109.
  2. ^ Kaner, S. (2003). "Jomon pottery, Japan". Current World Archaeology. Current Publishing. Archived from the original on 2013-03-18. Retrieved 27 Sep 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  3. ^ Junko Habu, Ancient Jomon of Japan. Volume 4 of Case Studies in Early Societies. Cambridge University Press, 2004 ISBN 0521776708 p.29
  4. ^ a b c Rice, Prudence M. “On the Origins of Pottery.” Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 6, no. 1 (1999): 1–54. Database on-line. Springerlink; accessed October 3, 2007.
  5. ^ a b Kuzmin, Yaroslav V. “Chronology of the earliest pottery in East Asia: progress and pitfalls.” Antiquity 80, (2006): 362–371. Database on-line. EBSCOhost; accessed October 3, 2007.
  6. ^ Hall, M. E. “Pottery Styles during the Early Jomon Period: Geochemical Perspectives on the Moroiso and Ukishima Pottery Styles.” Archaeometry 43, no. 1 (2001): 59–75. Database on-line. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost; accessed October 5, 2007.
  7. ^ The Maebashi-shi Board of Education (2016). "移りゆく縄文土器". Comprehensive Database of Archaeological Site Reports in Japan. Retrieved 2016-09-01.
  8. ^ Pearson, Richard. “Debating Jomon Social Complexity.” Asian Perspectives 46, no.2 (2007): 361–388. Database on-line. Project Muse; accessed October 5, 2007.

External links

Media related to Jōmon pottery at Wikimedia Commons


Dogū (Japanese: 土偶, literally "earthen figure") are small humanoid and animal figurines made during the later part of the Jōmon period (14,000–400 BC) of prehistoric Japan.A Dogū come exclusively from the Jōmon period, and were no longer made by the following Yayoi period. There are various styles of dogū, depending on the exhumation area and time period. According to the National Museum of Japanese History, the total number found throughout Japan is approximately 15,000. Dogū were made across all of Japan, except Okinawa. Most of the dogū have been found in eastern Japan and it is rare to find one in western Japan. The purpose of the dogū remains unknown and should not be confused with the clay haniwa funerary objects of the Kofun period (250 – 538).Everyday ceramic items from the period are called Jōmon pottery.

Japanese Prehistoric Art

Japanese prehistoric art is a wide-ranging category, spanning the Jōmon (c. 10,000 BCE – 350 BCE) and Yayoi periods (c. 350 BCE – 250 CE), and the entire Japanese archipelago, including Hokkaidō in the north, and the Ryukyu Islands in the south which were politically not part of Japan until the late 19th century.

Much about these two periods remains unknown, and debates continue among scholars regarding the nature of the cultures and societies of the period, their number and the extent to which they can be considered to be united, uniform cultures across the archipelago, and across time.

Japanese people

Japanese people (Japanese: 日本人, Hepburn: nihonjin) are a nation and an ethnic group that is native to Japan and makes up 98.5% of the total population of the country. Worldwide, approximately 129 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 125 million are residents of Japan. People of Japanese ancestry who live outside Japan are referred to as nikkeijin (日系人), the Japanese diaspora. The term ethnic Japanese is often used to refer to Japanese people, specifically Yamato people. Japanese are one of the largest ethnic groups in the world.

Jeulmun pottery period

The Jeulmun Pottery Period is an archaeological era in Korean prehistory broadly spanning the period of 8000–1500 BC. This period subsumes the Mesolithic and Neolithic cultural stages in Korea, lasting ca. 8000–3500 BC ("Incipient" to "Early" phases) and 3500–1500 BC ("Middle" and "Late" phases), respectively. Because of the early presence of pottery, the entire period has also been subsumed under a broad label of "Korean Neolithic".The Jeulmun pottery period is named after the decorated pottery vessels that form a large part of the pottery assemblage consistently over the above period, especially 4000-2000 BC. Jeulmun (Hangul: 즐문, Hanja: 櫛文) means "Comb-patterned". A boom in the archaeological excavations of Jeulmun Period sites since the mid-1990s has increased knowledge about this important formative period in the prehistory of East Asia.

The Jeulmun was a period of hunting, gathering, and small-scale cultivation of plants. Archaeologists sometimes refer to this life-style pattern as "broad-spectrum hunting-and-gathering".

Jōmon Venus

The Jōmon Venus (縄文のビーナス, Jōmon no Bīnasu) is a dogū, a humanoid clay female figurine from the Middle Jōmon period (3,000–2,000 BC), discovered in 1986 in Chino, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. It was designated a National Treasure in 1995, the first Jōmon-period artifact to be so designated.The dogū is an ocher-colored clay statuette 27 cm (11 in) high and weighing 2.14 kg (4.7 lb). The clay from which it is made has been carefully polished and contains mica. Its shape is thought to resemble a pregnant woman: broad hips, a pronounced gluteal arch, prominent breasts and an enlarged belly. In contrast to the overwhelming majority of the 20,000 dogū found in Japan, which were fragmented, the Venus of Jōmon is complete and has all its limbs.

Jōmon period

The Jōmon period (縄文時代, Jōmon jidai) is the time in Japanese prehistory, traditionally dated between c. 14,000–300 BCE, recently refined to about 1000 BCE, during which Japan was inhabited by a hunter-gatherer culture, which reached a considerable degree of sedentism and cultural complexity. The name "cord-marked" was first applied by the American scholar Edward S. Morse, who discovered sherds of pottery in 1877 and subsequently translated it into Japanese as jōmon. The pottery style characteristic of the first phases of Jōmon culture was decorated by impressing cords into the surface of wet clay and is generally accepted to be among the oldest in East Asia and the world.The Jōmon period was rich in tools and jewellery made from bone, stone, shell and antler; pottery figurines and vessels; and lacquerware. It is often compared to pre-Columbian cultures of the North American Pacific Northwest and especially to the Valdivia culture in Ecuador because in these settings cultural complexity developed within a primarily hunting-gathering context with limited use of horticulture.

Kamegaoka Stone Age Site

Kamegaoka Site (亀ヶ岡遺跡, Kamegaoka iseki) is a Jōmon period archaeological site in the city of Tsugaru, Aomori Prefecture, in the Tōhoku region of northern Japan. The remains were designated a National Historic Site in 1944 by the Japanese government. It is also referred to as the Kamegaoka Stone Age Site (亀ヶ岡石器時代遺跡, Korekawa sekki jidai iseki), although the remains discovered are from the Jōmon period, rather than the Japanese Paleolithic period.

Kurihara Ruins

The Kurihara Ruins (栗原遺跡, Kurihara iseki), shown on some maps as the Shirokita Central Park Kuirhara ruins, are ruins of a pit-house in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, Japan.

List of Japanese ceramics sites

The list of Japanese ceramics sites (日本の陶磁器産地一覧, Nihon no tōjiki sanchi ichiran) consists of historical and existing pottery kilns in Japan and the Japanese pottery and porcelain ware they primarily produced.

The list contains kilns of the post-Heian period. Not listed are ancient earthenware pottery such as Jōmon pottery, Yayoi pottery, Haji pottery, Sue pottery, Kamui ware, etc. which are general topics whose origins and production cannot be linked to just one specific kiln. Shimamono are objects that were imported from southeast Asia, but later produced locally as well. Mishima pottery despite its name is of Korean origin.

Some of the existing kilns and the main ceramic wares have been designated by the government Agency for Cultural Affairs as an Intangible Cultural Property as regulated by the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties (1950). In addition the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has designated others as "traditional handicraft workshops". The criteria set by the ministry to be recognised as a "traditional craft" (伝統的工芸品, Den tōtekikōgeihin) are regulated by Law No. 57 on the Promotion of Traditional Craft Industries (1974), also known as the Densan Law (伝産法):

It is primarily a craft for everyday life usage

The manufacturing process has to be largely done manually

Has a history of over 100 years, with production continuing to use traditional technologies and techniques

The type of main raw material has remained the same for over 100 years.

Artisans producing the craft have to have a certain degree of scale to be counted as a regional industryAmongst the list are also the so-called Enshū's Seven Kilns (遠州七窯, Enshū nana gama) attributed to Kobori Enshū during the Edo period, as well as the Six Ancient Kilns (六古窯, Rokkoyō) by Fujiyo Koyama during the Shōwa era.

The listing follows a geographical arrangement from north to southern Japan. It is divided by regions, then prefectures, then within the prefectures in alphabetical order. Those designated by the government are in bold letters, those listed under Enshū are marked with a 7 and those by Koyama with a 6 sign in brackets.

List of Japanese inventions and discoveries

This is a list of Japanese inventions and discoveries. The Japanese have made contributions across a number of scientific and technological domains. In particular, the country has played a crucial role in the digital revolution since the 20th century, with many modern revolutionary and widespread technologies in fields such as electronics and robotics introduced by Japanese inventors and entrepreneurs. Japanese popular culture, strongly shaped by its electronic technologies, commands considerable influence around the world.

Mawaki Site

The Mawaki Site (真脇遺跡, Mawaki iseki) is an archaeological site and the ruins of a Jōmon period settlement in what is now the city of Noto, Ishikawa in the Hokuriku region of Japan. The site was designated a National Historic Site of Japan in 1989.

Oldest Dryas

The Oldest Dryas was a climatic period, which occurred during the coldest stadial after the Weichselian glaciation in north Europe. In the Alps, the Oldest Dryas corresponds to the Gschnitz stadial of the Würm glaciation. The three “Dryas” periods (younger, older, oldest) are named for a marker species, Dryas octopetala, detected in core samples of glacial ice and peat bogs. The Oldest Dryas corresponds to pollen zone Ia.


Pottery is the process of forming vessels and other objects with clay and other ceramic materials, which are fired to give them a hard, durable form. Major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made by a potter is also called a pottery (plural "potteries"). The definition of pottery used by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), is "all fired ceramic wares that contain clay when formed, except technical, structural, and refractory products." In archaeology, especially of ancient and prehistoric periods, "pottery" often means vessels only, and figures etc. of the same material are called "terracottas". Clay as a part of the materials used is required by some definitions of pottery, but this is dubious.

Pottery is one of the oldest human inventions, originating before the Neolithic period, with ceramic objects like the Gravettian culture Venus of Dolní Věstonice figurine discovered in the Czech Republic dating back to 29,000–25,000 BC, and pottery vessels that were discovered in Jiangxi, China, which date back to 18,000 BC. Early Neolithic pottery artefacts have been found in places such as Jōmon Japan (10,500 BC), the Russian Far East (14,000 BC), Sub-Saharan Africa and South America.

Pottery is made by forming a ceramic (often clay) body into objects of a desired shape and heating them to high temperatures (1000-1600 °C) in a kiln and induces reactions that lead to permanent changes including increasing the strength and solidity of the object's shape. Much pottery is purely utilitarian, but much can also be regarded as ceramic art. A clay body can be decorated before or after firing.

Clay-based pottery can be divided into three main groups: earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. These require increasingly more specific clay material, and increasingly higher firing temperatures. All three are made in glazed and unglazed varieties, for different purposes. All may also be decorated by various techniques. In many examples the group a piece belongs to is immediately visually apparent, but this is not always the case. The fritware of the Islamic world does not use clay, so technically falls outside these groups. Historic pottery of all these types is often grouped as either "fine" wares, relatively expensive and well-made, and following the aesthetic taste of the culture concerned, or alternatively "coarse", "popular" "folk" or "village" wares, mostly undecorated, or simply so, and often less well-made.

Shinichi Fujimura

Shinichi Fujimura (藤村 新一, Fujimura Shin'ichi, b. 4 May 1950) is a Japanese archaeologist who claimed he had found a large number of stone artifacts dating back to the Lower Paleolithic and Middle Paleolithic periods. These objects were later revealed to be forgeries.

Takura Izumi

Takura Izumi (泉 拓良, Izumi Takura, born 1948) is a Japanese archaeologist and writer.

He is a Professor of Archaeology at Kyoto University and Professor Emeritus of Nara University.

He specializes in the archeology of prehistoric times, and has authored books on the appearance of Jōmon Pottery and history and the early history and birth of Japan in 2002. He is a member of the Japanese Archaeological Association, Japan Society of Scientific Studies on Cultural Properties, West Asian Archaeology Society, Japanese Society for West Asian Archeology, Japan Orient Society and The Society For Near Eastern Studies on Japan.

Tarō Okamoto

Tarō Okamoto (岡本 太郎, Okamoto Tarō, February 26, 1911 – February 9, 1996) was a Japanese artist noted for his abstract and avant-garde paintings and sculpture.

Togariishi Museum of Jōmon Archaeology

The Togariishi Museum of Jōmon Archaeology (茅野市尖石縄文考古館, Chino-shi Togariishi Jōmon Kōkokan) is a municipal museum located in the city of Chino, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, specializing in artifacts of the Jōmon period (between 14,000 and 1000 BCE).

Wakasa Mikata Jomon Museum

Wakasa Mikata Jomon Museum (若狭三方縄文博物館) is an archeological museum located in the town of Wakasa, Fukui Prefecture, Japan. It is dedicated to the exhibition of Torihama shell mound as well as varve (annual layer pattern), oldest of which dating back to 70,000 years ago, discovered in the bottom of Lake Suigetsu, one of the Five Lakes of Mikata. The founding chairman is Takeshi Umehara.

Yayoi pottery

Yayoi pottery (弥生土器 Yayoi doki) is earthenware pottery produced during the Yayoi period, an Iron Age era in the history of Japan, by an Island which was formerly native to Japan traditionally dated 300 BC to AD 300.

Ancient pottery
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