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Shell mounds are basically ancient kitchen dumps but they are sexy icons for the whole field of Japanese archaeology. The excavation of the Omori shell mounds byEdward S. Morsein 1877 is associated with the dawn of scientific archaeology and anthropology in Japan; at the same time, the birth of the University of Tokyo regarded as having been launched with the publication of the report on the shell mounds as the very first volume of the Memoirs of Science Department, University of Tokyo.
Jomon villagers would process the shellfish and deposit the shells at a shell midden site between the riverside and their dwellings. After eating the shellfish, the empty shells would be deposited in a dumping site in a location away from the village as can be seen in the left foreground of the replica village below. This was probably so as to avoid stench as well as attracting predators such as wolves and other wild animals to their dwelling grounds.
Research on the Nishigahara shell mound was featured as an exhibit this month at the Tokyo Metropolitan Archaeological Center adjacent to theJomon Village Historic Garden.
Above: Exhibit at Tama Center’s Jomon Village Archaeological Center
The shell mound exhibit features research that showed that the Jomon people collected shellfish mostly during the spring to summer seasons. But how were the researchers able to ascertain this? To know more, read the resthere…
All rights reserved. Text and photos of exhibits by Heritage of Japan.