Jomon Revelations: What The Prehistoric Japanese Did For Us

External event - Japan Society

Wednesday 22 May, 2013
6:45pm BST

The Swedenborg Society, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way (Hall entrance on Barter St), London WC1A 2TH


Simon Kaner

About the Lecture

The people who lived in the Japanese archipelago in the millennia before the arrival of rice farming, long before the first historical records that refer to Japan were written, were among the first to experiment with a number of innovations that had a profound impact on the subsequent history of humanity. These include creating some of the earliest ceramic containers in the world; fostering close relationships with plants and plant products, in particular lacquer; and creating some of the first village communities.

This talk examines recent discoveries that illustrate the contribution of the prehistoric Japanese to world history and presents evidence that the Jomon archipelago was not as cut off from its surroundings as is often thought. Drawing on examples from fieldwork in the Shinano and Chikuma River system, central Honshu and elsewhere, we will also see how these Jomon foragers were remarkably resilient in the face of regular natural catastrophes, incorporating coping with very active environments and their unpredictability into Jomon cultural perceptions of the world.

The talk will conclude with a consideration of the ways in which the ancient Jomon past is now presented to contemporary audiences in Japan, especially in the light of the bid to have 19 Jomon sites inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage, with an overview of some new museum displays and ways in which archaeology appears in the Japanese media.

About the Speaker

Dr Simon Kaner is Director of the Centre for Japanese Studies at the University of East Anglia, Norwich and Head of the Centre for Archaeology and Heritage at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures. A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, he is directing the Shinano River Project, investigating the development of historic environments along the Shinano and Chikuma rivers, the longest drainage in the Japanese archipelago. He is also currently involved in research into the archaeology of the sacred island of Okinoshima, the collection of kofun period archaeological materials collected by William Gowland at the British Museum, and the interface between cultural tourism and archaeology. As well as several academic publications, he is also working on a new English-language online resource about Japanese archaeology and cultural heritage for use in schools. His recent publications include The Power of Dogu: ceramic figures from ancient Japan (British Museum Press, 2009).

Admission is free. Booking recommended.
Nearest underground station: Holborn. Light refreshments will be provided

To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 7828 6330 or email or submit the online booking form:

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