Japan

Excavating Late-Medieval History in Japan

Who planted them –
those trees out in the fields
shrouded by mist?

        -Shinkei (1406-75)

On a cloudy but humid summer day in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I am enjoying a brief beach respite with my family while also thinking about the archaeological remains of the destruction of a castle town in sixteenth-century Japan.

I am a historian of late medieval and early modern Japan with a strong interest in material culture. I am not formally trained as an archaeologist but have always consulted with and read the work of archaeologists in Japan, and in previous projects drew extensively on excavation reports and archaeological materials from cities such as Kyoto, Osaka, and Sakai.

While I wait for my second monograph (on material culture and Tokugawa Ieyasu) to be published, hopefully in 2015, I have been doing preliminary work on my third major research project, a study of daily life in late-medieval Japanese castle towns using both archaeological materials and documentary evidence. My main site is the castle town of Ichijodani, near present-day Fukui City. Ichijodani served as the headquarters of the Asakura family of warriors for five generations, from the late fifteenth to the late sixteenth century. It is unusually well preserved as an archaeological site, having been destroyed by the warlord Oda Nobunaga in 1573 but never resettled as an urban center.

Today Ichijodani is a sleepy agricultural community that is home to a marvelous reconstruction of a portion of the town (see below), a fine museum just outside of the valley, and well-preserved ruins of various sorts.

ichijodani.jpg

In moments of peace between trips to the beach, I am reviewing my notes from multiple visits to the site and the museum, as well as perusing scans of catalogs, document collections, and other historical materials. I am reading letters and documents about Asakura Takakage (1428-81), who led the Asakura as they supplanted the Shiba warlords as rulers of Echizen province, and Asakura Yoshikage (1533-73), who was the unfortunate head of the family when his lineage and headquarters were destroyed in the period’s violent civil wars. I am also studying images of the luxury Chinese ceramics, the various forms of Echizen pottery, the unglazed and low-temperature ritual vessels, and other materials excavated from homes across the town. Reading these old things alongside their contemporaneous old texts is a challenge and a pleasure.

excavated_ceramics

Reconstruction

There are many horizonts…

Hi everybody!

I’m a spanish researcher who study Asian Archaeology, so I’m in Japan now doing Archaeology, and I’m very excited for be part of the Day of Archaeology 2014! Anywhere that I am, always is nice to share our work! In the photo, I’m working with the materials found in the excavation of the biggest burial mound in Japan, the Tatetsuki burial mound (Okayama, Japan), in a afternoon of relax and research.

There are many horizonts, and Archaeology can move you everywhere…!

Greetings!

José A. Mármol

Okayama, Japan

Archaeology in Japan

 

“Excavating an Archives”… well, at the end of the day

 

1272

Hello!

Hello, All. I am happy to participate again in the third annual Day of Archaeology (2011, 2012).  Congratulations and a big THANK YOU to all of the other participants and volunteers!  The past few years have been a wonderful experience – I love seeing what other archaeologists are doing around the globe, as well as sharing my own work.

My name is Molly Swords and I am an historical archaeologist based out of Moscow, Idaho, and employed as a Cultural Resource Specialist III for SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA).  For the last few years, we have been processing on an enormous archaeological collection for the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD).  This project has also led to a new partnership with the University of Idaho as I teach both Applied Cultural Resource Management and Issues in Heritage Management classes.

In keeping with my two previous day of archaeology posts- I’ve chosen to document what my day looked like today…

Kali D.V. Oliver and Theodore Charles, graduate students at the University of Idaho

Kali D.V. Oliver and Theodore Charles, graduate students at the University of Idaho

This morning, I had a lovely start to my day. I met two University of Idaho graduate students for an early morning coffee meeting.  We talked about progress on their thesis topics, upcoming conferences where they could present their work, and options to consider as avenues for archaeological publishing.

I dedicated a good portion of my morning and afternoon to editing a couple of technical reports and organizing artifacts for a museum exhibit.  The company that I work for, SWCA is putting together a museum exhibit at the Bonner Country Historical Museum on the Sandpoint Archaeological Project with the support of ITD.  This exhibit is a fantastic way to illustrate this amazing project to the local community and visitors to Sandpoint.  The museum exhibit should be open in mid-August; so, make sure to check it out if you are in the Lake Pend d’Oreille area!

At lunchtime, I decided to call Mary Anne Davis, the Associate State Archaeologist for the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). I wanted to check in with Mary Anne Davis about details for students presenting and the possibility of having a University of Idaho session at the Idaho Heritage Conference (September 25-27). Go Vandals!  This year is Idaho’s territorial sesquicentennial (the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s signing of the congressional act creating the Idaho Territory). In celebration of this anniversary, folks and organizations around the state have been hosting events, including a very impressive Idaho Archaeological Month in May, and will continue to observe the sesquicentennial with the first ever Idaho Heritage Conference.  This conference is a partnership between of a number of organizations in Idaho (Idaho Archaeological Society, Idaho Heritage Trust, Idaho Association of Museums, Idaho State Historical Society, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Preservation Idaho), all of which will hold their annual meetings, preservations, training, and field trips together for this conference. Mary Anne and I also discussed having something similar to the Day of Archaeology during Idaho Archaeology Month next year.

AACC Stacks of Reference Resources

AACC Stacks of Reference Resources

AACC Comparative Collection

AACC Comparative Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last part of my day was spent at the Asian American Comparative Collection (AACC), housed at the Alfred W. Bower’s Laboratory of Anthropology at the University of Idaho.  I am doing some research on Overseas Chinese for a publication that I am currently writing.  If you do not know about the AACC yet, a volunteer coordinator and one of my archaeological heroes, Dr. Priscilla Wegars, runs it.  The collection houses around 27,500 entries in the database covering artifacts, documents, bibliography, and images.  This collection is such a wealth of information and Priscilla is such a treasure.  I wanted to spend some time going through the stacks of resources, including dissertations, theses, and gray literature, to help me shed more light on the Overseas Chinese in the American West.  In the span of 40 minutes, Priscilla provided me eleven amazing documents.  (Honestly, with Priscilla’s help it took about 10 minutes).  When I told Priscilla that I was going to “blog” about my day of archaeology and ending up at the archives she said that I was “excavating the archives.”

AACC Food Storage Jars, typically referred Ginger Jars

AACC Food Storage Jars, typically referred Ginger Jars

** I have included the link for the Asian American Comparative Collection Foundation at the University of Idaho, they are currently accepting donations in order to keep this world-renowned and heavily utilized collection available in the future**

http://www.uiweb.uidaho.edu/aacc/FUTURE.HTM

All in all, it was a lovely Day of Archaeology.  If you want to follow me on twitter- for more archaeological tidbits- I’m anthrogirly.

AACC houses a variety of cultural materials including those from China, Japan, and the Pacific Islands (including Australia and New Zealand)

AACC houses a variety of cultural materials including those from China, Japan, and the Pacific Islands (including Australia and New Zealand)

 

Here are some links:

http://www.swca.com/index.php/

http://idahoarchaeology.org/projects/sandcreekarchaeology/

http://www.preservationidaho.org/heritageconference

http://www.uiweb.uidaho.edu/aacc/

People that I would like to thank: SWCA, Mary Anne Davis, Priscilla Wegars, Kali D.V. Oliver, Theodore Charles, Mary Petrich-Guy, Jim Bard, Robert Weaver, and Mark Warner

AACC Alcohol Bottles. I thought I would end this post with a photographic toast!

 

 

Norfolk update

To see what a County Council Historic Environment Service gets up to, see our latest Annual Review (for 2012-13) just out and downloadable from http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/Environment/Historic_environment/index.htm

More activity on the project front this morning, following a visit to the Gressenhall offices yesterday by Dr Simon Kaner of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Art and Culture and no fewer than two Professors of Archaeology from Tokyo.  We are forging links between Norfolk and Nagawa around common themes such as the mining of obsidian (Japan) and flint (Norfolk – Grimes Graves) and forestry, and hope to develop this into some joint projects in the years ahead, perhaps involving investigations into prehistoric burial mounds in the Brecks, the Iron Age fort and medieval motte and bailey castle at Thetford, and the medieval rabbit warrens in the Brecks.  If you’ve not discovered the best rabbit warrening landscape in the world, see http://www.brecsoc.org.uk/projects/warrens-project/

Also a possible future Landscape Partnership project on a stretch of the Norfolk coastline, following on from our previous surveys of heritage assets in the coastal zone, our work on the coastal zone from aerial photographs (English Heritage National Mapping Programme), and current work on access to the coast, including its many heritage assets, from the 700,000+ year old flints at Happisburgh to World War Two coastal defences.

David Gurney, Historic Environment Manager (County Archaeologist), Norfolk County Council

 

 

 

Toneri site is the oldest village in Adachi , Japan

I was displaying a several relic of Toneri site in Japan. I made a display-case of Toneri site in Minumadaishinsuikouen-station of Nippori-Toneri line with my stuff. It’s all exhibit that I discover many relics from Toneri site with my stuff. My relics from Toneri site with my stuff.

Toneri site is from the Kofun period (AD.C3-7th). It’s many ritual relic and old building from Kofun period in Tokyo. This site was around Kenaga Gawa river and was made on the Delta. It’s a community site that has some houses, pits, tombs and some wells in this site. This site has one of the tombs and wells that are some the remnants of an old Ritual building.

A Day in Japanese Archaeological Laboratory

I’m an archaeologist living and working in Japan. I’m a researcher of Meiji University Archaeological Investigation Unit. This unit is organized for preventive excavation within university campus.

In Japan, all archaeological sites are conserved under the national law. Local governments develop a registration map of archaeological sites and check all land development. In order to keep to the law, all developer and constructor – not only commercial sector but also public/administrative sector- must make an effort to conserve archaeological sites within their development/ construction area. If they cannot change their plans, they must do excavation. More than 95% of excavations carried out in Japan are this type – preventive excavation…documentation before destruction of sites for those 40yrs.

As you know Japan has large population- about 120 million- in small land. Most parts of our landscape are hilly or mountainous, so our living spaces are definitely limited and overlaid on ancestor’s lived space. This is the cause of so many excavations – more than 8,000 in average/year and the peak was about 12,000 in 1996…- have done every year.

In 2004, our project was started. It was for the construction of new buildings of the university affiliated junior-high and high school. At first we did survey and sounding in total 40,000 sq-meters area, then begun excavation in 18,000 sq-meters area. The excavation continued for 2 years and 5 months – more than 800 days. We unveiled Modern Age (including Imperial Japanese Army and occupation Allied Force sites during WWII ), Jomon Age (mostly Middle Jomon, 6-4.5ka) and the Upper Palaeolithic Age (32-16ka). Now I’m constructing web-site for our excavation (https://sites.google.com/site/japarchresources/ :it’s not completed) .

aerial view of our excavation area in 2005

aerial view of our excavation area in 2005

excavation of the Upper Palaeolithic living floor

excavation of the Upper Palaeolithic living floor

excavation of a shelter for air fighter of Imperial Japanese Army during WWII

excavation of a shelter for air fighter of Imperial Japanese Army during WWII

documentation of the Late Pleistocene staratigraphy

documentation of the Late Pleistocene staratigraphy

Our excavation was finished in Dec,2007. However it means finishing just the first step only in the field… we have more than 500 containers filled with artefacts such as: 5,000 potsherd and 40,000 pebbles of Jomon, 25,000 lithics and 90,000 pebbles of the Upper Palaeolithic, more than 200GB of digital images and measurement datum by total station system… and so on.

Since 2008, we’re engaging with the post-excavation procedure and it will continue until 2015. We have published the 1st volume of our excavation report this May and will publish other 5 volumes over 5 years.

This is our background. And here I show our habitual day in post-excavation laboratory of our investigation unit. Now we’re tackling with Jomon and the Upper Palaeolithic materials.

The first section is for Upper Palaeolithic pebble refitting work. We uncovered more than 300 stone heaps composed with 90,000 pebbles. Most of pebbles are burnt and fragments. These stone heaps are assumed for cooking, as in the Pacific ethnography.

This work has started in 2010 and will continue for the next 2 years. There are many pebbles in containers waiting for their turn…

Upper Palaeolithic pebble refitting

Upper Palaeolithic pebble refitting

Upper Palaeolithic pebble refitting(2)

Upper Palaeolithic pebble refitting(2)

These workers are from the commercial company engaging in preventive archaeology.

more pebbles are waiting their turn...

more pebbles are waiting their turn...

all containers are fulfilled with material

all containers are fulfilled with material

The second section is for Upper Palaeolithic stone tools (lithic technology) refitting. This work has started in 2007 and will finished this year.

Basically we start from distinguishing chipped stone tools and debitages into petrological classification and making sub-divisions acording to their colour, texture, micro-structure and other characteristics. This is very empiric but very efficient method. Up to now we have documented more than 6,000 cases of refitting in 25,000 specimens of lithic material. In some cases, we can reconstruct original shape of nodule and decode total sequence of knapping technology. Of course, to determine source of raw material, we apply archaeo-scientific analysis.

Lithic refitting work(1)

Lithic refitting work(1)

Lithic refitting work(2)

Lithic refitting work(2)

arrange debitages with raw material, texture and other character

arrange debitages with raw material, texture and other character

documenting which pieces are and how they are refitting in sequence

documenting which pieces are and how they are refitting in sequence

The third section is computer application for managing the database, drawing maps and artefacts, geo-spatial analysing and editing publications. We use Microsoft(R) Access(2007)(R) for database managing; Inteli CAD(6.0J) for arranging and original drawings measurement survey datum, 3-dimensional distribution maps of artefacts; Adobe(R) Illustrator(CS5)(R) for drawing artefacts and finising maps and other figures for publication; Arc GIS<sup>(R)</sup>10 for geo-spatial analysing; Adobe(R) InDesign(CS4)(R) for editing publications. Some part of these computer works are put out to commercial companies, those which have specific technique and systems.

computers in our laboratory

computers in our laboratory

a drawing of stone tool (Upper Palaeolithic backed blade)

a drawing of stone tool (Upper Palaeolithic backed blade)

drawing distribution map of Upper Palaeolithic lithic concentration

drawing distribution map of Upper Palaeolithic lithic concentration

database for chipped stone tools of Upper Palaeolithic

database for chipped stone tools of Upper Palaeolithic

geo-spatial analysing of Jomon inter-site components

geo-spatial analysing of Jomon inter-site components

Post-excavation laboratory working continues…however I hope to go back to the field…yep I should!!!!

Japanese archaeology

Had a good meeting this morning to thrash out an outline for an online education project based on Japanese archaeology and art. It promises to be very exciting. Lets hope we get the funding. Japanese archaeology is amazing and largely unknown in the west. You want Palaeolithic pottery? Come to Japan!