Transition from the Yayoi to Kofun Periods in Third Century A.D. Japan

Author(s): Gen Miyoshi

Year: 2015


The beginning of the Kofun Period in the middle third century A.D. in Japan is often explained in terms of the class distinction of chiefs from ordinary members of the society. This explanation is widely accepted because of the appearance of giant keyhole-shaped burial mounds of more than 270 meters and of "elite mansion." Japanese archaeologists discuss the social complexity of the Kofun Period with reference to social stratification with the chief at the top. In this paper, I apply "Dual-Processual Theory" to explain this phenomenon, and examine the complexity of a society in which elites were not distinguished. In this way, it becomes possible to present a model different from unilinear evolutionary scheme. Specifically, I consider Middle Yayoi society (first century B.C.) representing a typical corporate strategy, where elites were not distinguished in mortuary practices and residential patterns. I consider Middle Kofun society (fifth century A.D.) representing a typical network strategy, where giant keyhole-shaped burial mounds were dedicated to individual elites. I intend to explain temporal change in social strategy from the first to fourth centuries A.D. within this framework. It is my hope to contribute to the Dual-Processual Theory utilizing rich archaeological data from Japan.

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Transition from the Yayoi to Kofun Periods in Third Century A.D. Japan. Gen Miyoshi. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396013)