Cultural Biographies of Japanese Jades: Temporal and Spatial Variability during the Jomon Period

Author(s): Ilona Bausch

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Two Approaches to Archaeological Jades: Source Characterization and Social Valuation" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Jadeitite from the Itoigawa source was highly valued among hunter-gatherers inhabiting the Japanese archipelago during the Jomon period, circulating widely from its discovery during the late Early Jomon (c. 4000 BCE) until the end of the period (c. 400 BCE). While there is some indication that raw material may have been valued in its own right, the overwhelming majority involves finished artefacts. Due to the presence of a drilled hole, these have been uniformly classified as ‘ornaments’ (‘large pendants’ during the earlier phase, small round and curved beads during the later phase), and—based on several well-published finds from mortuary contexts—interpreted as conferring magical and/or social power, worn as prestige objects by ‘leaders’ or ‘shaman’. However, diversity in shape, size, wear and depositional context demonstrate that there is much variability in function and social value. In some contexts, other minerals /rocks were substituted for jadeitite. Moreover, it is necessary to take into account the heterogeneity of Jomon societies through time and space, as well as varying levels of social inequality. This presentation will examine the diversity in Jomon jade artefact practices, discussing regional and chronological differences in production, use wear and deposition.

Cite this Record

Cultural Biographies of Japanese Jades: Temporal and Spatial Variability during the Jomon Period. Ilona Bausch. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450735)


Geographic Keywords
Asia: East Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 70.4; min lat: 17.141 ; max long: 146.514; max lat: 53.956 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23328