Genealogy in the Ground: Observations of Jar Burials of the Yayoi Period, Northern Kyushu, Japan

By Mizoguchi, Koji | Antiquity, June 2005 | Go to article overview

Genealogy in the Ground: Observations of Jar Burials of the Yayoi Period, Northern Kyushu, Japan


Mizoguchi, Koji, Antiquity


Introduction

The Yayoi period of Japan witnessed the adoption of rice paddy field agriculture (e.g. Immamura 1996: 128-37; Mizoguchi 2002:116-34). The sophisticated socio-technological complex related to rice cultivation is most likely to have been introduced from the southern coastal region of the Korean peninsula, and this led to the rapid development of social complexity and stratification. Whether the nature of social complexity of the Middle Yayoi period can be best equated to the chiefdom or the Big Man tribal society (cf. Johnson & Earle 1987) is the subject of debate (cf. Mizoguchi 2002: 169-83). However, it is widely accepted that by the late Middle Yayoi period, a roughly 100-year period around AD 1, society became differentiated into two strata: the elite, comprising chiefs and their kin; and the commoners (e.g. Takakura 1973; Kondo 1983).

The study of the mortuary practices of the Yayoi period has focused on the emergence and maturation of such a social hierarchy. The two principal objectives of the study have been the recognition of burial groups that are thought to have been the mortuary allotments of small corporate segments such as sub-lineages/households in individual cemetery sites and the examination of whether any evidence exists for hierarchical differences between those burial groups in terms of the amount of grave goods deposited with the deceased and the amount of labour mobilised in the construction of graves. The cemeteries have been categorised into types (cf. Takakura 1973) that are assumed to have reflected the stages of the process of social stratification. However, we can also distinguish two different principles of spatial structuring which reflect different attitudes to the passage of time. It is the consciousness of burial sequences and its connection with social and economic success that provide the subject of this paper.

Two types of spatial structure

Looking at the general plans of late Middle Yayoi period cemeteries from the northern Kyushu region, one's first impression is that the spatial configuration of burials and related features appears rather chaotic. However, we may examine their sequential development in detail utilising the well-established typo-chronology of the burial jars which is anchored by imported bronze mirrors with known production dates from early Han dynastic period, China (cf. Hashiguchi 1979; Figure 1). The exercise reveals two distinct patterns, which we can exemplify by examining cemetery sites at Mondentsujibatake site and Uraedani.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

The cemetery at Monden-tsujibatake is located on a low-lying hill on the bottom of a floodplain (Fukuoka Prefectural Board of Education 1978). Here, 27 jar burials were excavated (Figure 2), of which 18 (9 adult and 9 infant) dated to the late Middle Yayoi period (around AD 1). At the centre of the cemetery were three jar burials, located side by side with their grave pits partially overlapping one another. Jar burial 23 was overlapped at a corner of the grave pit by jar burial 24, a corner of whose grave pit was destroyed when jar burial 21 was constructed. This suggests that the group comprising those three burials represented a sequence of three episodes in the early phase of this cemetery. Each burial jar was lowered in the grave pit in the same orientation as if pointing to the one before. Elsewhere, the burials in this cemetery were situated at some distance from one another (Figure 2). Some were situated in relatively close proximity to one another, but not as close as the three at the centre of the cemetery.

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

A bronze ploughshare was found in the fill of the disturbed part of the grave pit of jar burial 23. Jar burial 24 had a short iron sword, an iron halberd and the traces on the inside of the lower jar of two bronze mirrors that had been robbed (Figure 3). Jar burial 27, situated close to the central cluster, had been disturbed, but yielded two short iron swords in the disturbed fill and an iron halberd in situ. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Genealogy in the Ground: Observations of Jar Burials of the Yayoi Period, Northern Kyushu, Japan
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.