Simon Kaner

Executive Director and Head of Centre for Archaeology and Heritage

Simon Kaner MA Cantab, PhD (2004) is an archaeologist specialising in the prehistory of Japan. As well as being Executive Director since 2018, he is Head of the Centre for Archaeology and Heritage at the Sainsbury Institute. Simon is also Director of the Centre for Japanese Studies and Chair of the Japan Country Dialogue Group at the University of East Anglia.

A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London since 2005, he has taught and published on many aspects of East Asian and European archaeology. He has undertaken archaeological research in Japan, the UK and elsewhere and worked for several years in archaeological heritage management in the UK. His research interests include: Japanese prehistory and the history of archaeology in Japan; the urban historic environment in Japan in comparative perspective; Japanese cultural heritage and the international role of Japanese heritage management. He is director of the Shinano River project, investigating the development of historic landscapes along the longest river system in the Japanese archipelago.

He is currently co-editing the Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Korea and Japan (with Gary Crawford and Gyoung-Ah Lee) and a new volume on the Origins of Agriculture in Japan in Global Perspective (with Liliana Janik and Kenichi Yano), both planned for publication in 2021. He is Co-Editor of the Japanese Journal of Archaeology (, and Series Editor of Comparative Studies in Japanese Archaeology and Heritage (Archaeopress) and The Science of the History of Humanity in Asia and the Pacific (Springer). His online projects include Global Perspectives on British Archaeology ( and the Online Resource in Japanese Archaeology and Cultural Heritage ( In partnership with the Centre for Heritage Studies at the University of Cambridge, he directs the Online Jomon Matsuri.

Selected publications


  • The Archaeology of Medieval Towns: case studies from Japan and Europe, (edited with Brian Ayers, Richard Pearson and Oscar Wrenn) and Okinoshima: the Outstanding Universal Value of Japan’s Sacred Heritage will be published later in 2020.
  • The Power of Dogu: ceramic figures from ancient Japan (2009), which accompanied a major exhibition at the British Museum and An Illustrated Companion to Japanese Archaeology (edited with Werner Steinhaus, Shinya Shoda and Megumi Jinno, 2nd Edition 2020).
  • Jomon Reflections: Forager Life and Culture in the Prehistoric Japanese Archipelago by Kobayashi Tatsuo (2005), which he adapted and edited with Nakamura Oki.

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