The Prehistory of Japan

The Prehistory of Japan

The Prehistory of Japan

The Prehistory of Japan

Excerpt

It is extremely gratifying to receive, after a lapse of so many years, a work in a field which is so little known to most Western scholars. For the past seventy years intensive archaeological research has been going on in Japan; its results have been made known to us by a small group of American and European scholars who participated in some of the excavations. In the past twenty years or so we have lacked even this source of information, with the exception of a few scattered specialized articles by Japanese writing in European journals, for the most part. The result is that many of us speak of the "Jomon culture" and the "Yayoi culture" and thereby exhaust our fund of knowledge of Japanese archaeology. Whatever the reasons for it, this is regrettable. In Current Problems in Japanese Prehistory, Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, III (No. I, 1947), 57-68, I expressed the need for a modern synthesis of the results of archaeological research in Japan, written in English. This need has been met in the present book by Father Gerard Groot.

There are doubtless few scholars, other than Japanese, who could have made such a study as the present one. The difficulties facing the student who wishes to obtain a first-hand knowledge of Japanese archaeology are tremendous. To examine a reasonable sample of the archaeological contents of the thousands of excavated sites, he must visit almost innumerable SYSTEM and private collections, many of which are in remote sections of the country. To peruse the literature one must not only have an unusual knowledge of the Japanese language--Father Groot points out that "even learned Japanese are not able to read many names" --but also the time and the patience to hunt down the many rare and privately printed articles that are sometimes of considerable importance. Added to these obstacles there is the everpresent need of evaluating most critically, wherever possible, the excavating methods and techniques upon which the scientific interpretation of cultural remains depends so heavily. This procedure involves more than a study of excavation reports; I have never come across a report on a Japanese site in which the field methods are set forth step-by-step and in detail. In many cases it would be necessary to visit the sites themselves, interview the archaeologists, and perhaps run a few test trenches to confirm certain stratigraphic details. With all these difficulties in mind, we must be doubly appreciative of Father Groot's contribution.

In a letter accompanying the manuscript, Father Groot wrote: "It is absolutely necessary to correct the English, [which is] not my mother tongue." I have striven to the best of my ability to "correct the English" of Father Groot's manuscript. In all fairness, however, to both Father Groot and to me, it must be pointed out that much more than a simple rearrangement of sentence structure and changes in number, tense, and other grammatical details was involved. Owing, doubtless, to Father Groot's admitted inexpertness with the English language, a number of conclusions were stated by him in more positive terms than the evidence as set forth in the text warranted, according to my best judgment. The wording in such instances was rendered less positive, without, it is hoped, making any change in the author's intent or causing inv . . .

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