Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


When did the wet-rice cultivation
begin in Japanese Archipelago?

FUJIO Shin'ichiro,IMAMURA Mineo,NISHIMOTO Toyohiro

Key words;

AMS-14C dating, absolute age, Yayoi period, wet-rice cultivation, northern Kyushu,
carbonized material adhering to pottery

The beginning of wet rice agriculture is one of the major turning points in Japanese history, and it is generally thought that the beginning of wet rice agriculture heralded the beginning of the Yayoi period. Wet rice agriculture began in northern Kyushu and then spread all over the Japanese archipelago. Based on the results of AMS carbon-14 dating of materials excavated from archaeological sites in northern Kyushu, a research group from the National Museum of Japanese History announced two years ago that there was a very high possibility that the Yayoi period began between the 9th and 10th centuries BC. This conclusion concurs with the results of age dating measurements from Final Jomon sites in eastern Japan and sites in the south of the Korean peninsula dating from the same period. It was followed by repeated confirmations from the measurement results of a great number of Yayoi period sites. This paper presents data collected to date consisting mainly of measurement results from northern Kyushu that substantiate the period obtained for the beginning of the Yayoi period and the conclusions that have been reached so far.

The research discusses the dating of the beginning of the Yayoi period by clarifying the relationship between the chronology for types of earthenware from northern Kyushu dating from Final Jomon through to the Initial and Early Yayoi periods and actual ages obtained from AMS carbon-14 dating. The paper responds to the opposing arguments of some researchers concerning interpretation of the obtained data by not only discussing individual data, but by also taking a statistical approach to numerous data and presenting the measurements results of the characteristics of carbonized material adhering to pottery that comprise the main source of measurement materials. The paper also addresses issues and problems relating to materials connected with the beginning of the Yayoi period, which at the present time is believed to be the latter half of the 10th century.