Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sanmaru Museum - part 2

As I wrote in an earlier post, hubby and I visited Sannai Maruyama Archaeological Site in Aomori City on 23rd December 2016. After visiting the actual excavation site, we visited a museum named Sanmaru Museum located inside Jomon Jiyukan building that stands adjacent to the archaeological site. All the excavated items and collected ruins of Jomon period are comprehensively and systematically arranged and introduced inside the museum. In fact, the museum exhibits approximately 1700 artifacts including approximately 500 important cultural properties excavated from the archaeological site. The museum is divided into two sections. One of the sections is named ‘Jomon no Kokoro’ which means ‘Basics of the Jomon Period’. This section is located to the left side on entering the museum, and about which I have written in the previous post. The other section is a themed exhibition named ‘Jomonjin no Kurashi wo Himotoku’ which means ‘Understanding the Life of People of Jomon period’. This section is located to the right side of the museum, and reproduces many scenes of the daily lives of Jomon people as conceived by the archaeologists from the excavated articles and objects. The recreated scenes are interestingly done in an easy-to-understand manner by using figures of people wearing Jomon period clothing, fishing, hunting or performing daily tasks. Many ancient excavated pottery and fishing hooks are also displayed in this section. Today I will write about this section ‘Jomonjin no Kurashi wo Himotoku’ of the museum.


At the entrance area of ‘Jomonjin no Kurashi wo Himotoku’ section of Sanmaru Museum, we saw a figure of a Jomon period child welcoming us and pointing towards the huge hall of this section. We entered inside the hall and saw the reproduction of many scenes of the daily lives of Jomon people as conceived by the archaeologists from the excavated ruins and objects from Sannai Maruyama Archaeological Site. The explanations about the life of Jomon people were very interesting. In addition, there was exhibition of many interesting items like flat clay figures, jade beads, earthenware, pottery, stone tools, and personal ornaments. I will write about each section in more details in the following paragraphs.
Figure of a Jomon period child pointing towards the ‘Jomonjin no Kurashi wo Himotoku’ section of Sanmaru Museum


On entering inside the museum hall, first we saw many excavated ruins and collected items regarding the hunting lifestyle of Jomon people. The ancient people hunted with bows, arrows, stone spears, game pits, and traps to capture game from a safe distance. For making these tools, shale and obsidian rocks, which are suited for creating sharp blades, were used. We saw several exhibits of stone tools and objects that were excavated from the archaeological site. In fact, we saw the display of many stone arrowheads and stone spearheads made during the early to middle Jomon period (approximately 5500-4000 years ago). All the stone tools were amazingly shaped and some of them were rather sharp. Some of the displayed stone tools are designated as important cultural properties. We also saw an interesting exhibit about the production procedure of such stone tools from raw materials by the Jomon people in the long bygone era. In addition, in this hunting corner, the excavated bones of various animals and birds, like fox and albatross were displayed. Archaeologists have found ruins of bones of many animals and birds like foxes, rabbits, albatrosses, deer, Japanese giant flying squirrels, and wild boars from the archaeological site. These animals and birds were hunted and captured using stone tools, and then eaten by the Jomon people. It should be mentioned here that the remains of many dogs were also found at the excavation site but they were buried with respect after their death, which led to the conclusion that dogs were used for hunting and were considered to be the hunting partners of Jomon people. We loved looking at the exhibits of various stone hunting tools and the display of several bone ruins of the ancient animals and birds. I am including the details about the displays along with the photos below.
I am standing at the hunting corner inside the museum hall where stone stools and bones from the Jomon period were displayed

A mannequin figure of an adult Jomon person making hunting tools along with the display of several stone hunting tools

Dogs were the hunting partners of Jomon people

An exhibit describing the production procedure of stone hunting tools from raw materials by the Jomon people

Stone spearheads and stone arrowheads from early to middle Jomon period (5500-4000 years ago)

Stone arrowheads from early to middle Jomon period (5500-4000 years ago) and are designated as important cultural properties

A stone spearhead from early to middle Jomon period (5500-4000 years ago)

Fox bones from early Jomon period (5500 years ago)

Albatross bones from early Jomon period (5500 years ago)


Next, we saw many excavated ruins and collected items regarding the fishing style and techniques of Jomon people. Various data and results obtained from the archaeological site suggest that the Jomon people had thorough knowledge about the sea, from the area close to the shore to straits, as well as the land. In addition to gathering shellfish at the sea and the river, they caught fish by maneuvering dugout canoes skillfully. Excavated fishhooks and harpoon heads suggest that they caught relatively large fishes by line fishing and spear fishing. Stone weights are considered to have been used as fishing net sinkers for catching small fishes. Thus, they used fishhooks, harpoons, and nets for different purposes. At the fishing corner, we saw several exhibits of ancient fishhooks, stone net-sinkers, harpoon-heads, bone needles, and blanks that were excavated from the archaeological site. We noted that although the materials of these tools were different from those of the contemporary ones, their shapes were essentially the same. All the excavated relics displayed were made during the early Jomon period (approximately 5500 years ago), and most of them are designated as important cultural properties. In addition, in this fishing corner, the excavated bones of several fishes were displayed though we did not any take photos of them. Archaeologists have found ruins of bones of various kinds of fishes like sardine, salmon, cod, herring, mackerel, sea bass, yellowtail, sea bream, flounder, tuna, and many more from the archaeological site. These fishes were captured using the fishing tools, and then eaten by the Jomon people. We loved looking at the exhibits of various fishing tools and the display of several bone ruins of the ancient fishes. I am including the details about the displays along with the photos below.
I am learning some fishing skills from this Jomon person

Displays of fishhooks (upper left), harpoon-heads (lower left), a composite fishhook (lower middle), stone net-sinkers (upper right), and bone needles (lower right). All these relics are from early Jomon period (5500 years ago). In addition, all are designated as important cultural properties, except for the composite fishhook.

Displays of blanks made of various materials like antler (upper left), mammal ribs (lower left), mammal bones (upper right), and bird bones (lower right). All these relics are from early Jomon period (5500 years ago). In addition, the blanks made of antler and mammal bones are important cultural properties.

Displays of fishhooks (left) and a bone needle (right). All these relics are from early Jomon period (5500 years ago) and are important cultural properties

Materials for making bone and antler implements


Then followed many excavated ruins and collected items regarding the gathering style and food habits of Jomon people. Apart from hunting and fishing, Jomon people obtained their food mainly through gathering. In addition to animals, fishes and shellfishes, the Jomon people mainly ate mountain vegetables and nuts. Nuts such as chestnuts, walnuts and Japanese horse chestnuts were an important source of food for the people at the time. Chestnuts do not have a bitter taste that has to be removed, and so could be eaten without being processed. They are also suitable to be stored and preserved. Japanese horse chestnuts have to be soaked in water to remove the bitter taste, and the remains of watering places for it have been found at the excavation site. It is thought that they also ate edible wild plants like mushrooms, brackens and flowering ferns, and starch included in plant roots likes potatoes and other root crops. Hard nuts were eaten after being crushed and milled with stone pestles, grinding stones and stone plates. At the gathering corner of the museum, we saw displays of several small glass containers having the ancient ruins of many species of plants as well as various kinds of seeds and nuts that were excavated from the archaeological site. We also saw the display of several stone tools from the early to middle Jomon period (5500-4000 years ago) that were used for grinding the gathered food or for hammering the shells of the chestnuts or walnuts. Some of these stone tools are designated as important cultural properties. In addition, according to the data and results obtained from the excavation site, archaeologists believe that along with the gathering of nuts and other food items, cultivation of plants had also started during the Jomon period. We saw mannequin figures of an adult Jomon person growing a plant and a child looking on. Also, excavation of the archaeological site has revealed that there were extensive chestnut forests around the village. Chestnut trees were not only used for food but also for the wood that was used for firewood and as construction material for building dwellings. We saw a figure of a Jomon person cutting the trunk of a chestnut tree. We really loved the way the everyday lifestyle of Jomon people was depicted using such mannequin figures.
A figure of a Jomon person relaxing after having food along with the display of several glass containers having the ruins of ancient plants, seeds, and nuts in the foreground

Enlarged view of several small glass containers having the ancient ruins of many plant species as well as various kinds of seeds and nuts

On the left is a display of a saddle quern from early Jomon period (5500 years ago) and is designated as an important cultural property. There are also displays of grinding stones with pits (upper right), grinding stones (lower middle), and a hammer stone (lower right), all from early to middle Jomon period (5500-4000 years ago).

Mannequin figures of an adult Jomon person growing a plant and a child looking on

Figure of a Jomon person cutting the trunk of a chestnut tree


Next, we saw a mound made of accumulated thin multiple layers of soil. A mound is a slightly elevated patch of ground formed during the Jomon period as a result of long-term disposal of dirt and waste by the Jomon people. Several such mounds have been excavated at the archaeological site. The one we saw was actually an excised 2-meter-thick cross section of such an excavated mound that was transported from the site and displayed inside the museum. In fact, it covered an entire wall of the museum. We could clearly see more than 1500 years worth of accumulation of various soil layers at the mound. Brownish and yellowish brown soil layers derived from soil that was dug to make pit-dwellings and storage pits was seen. Burnt red soil and charcoal layers were found at this section of the mound. In addition, there were potteries, stone artifacts, animal bones, and pieces of amber in other places of different excavated mounds.
Mound made of accumulated thin soil layers


Then we saw the exhibition of Jomon period pottery on a stepped stage in the center of the museum hall. All the displayed clay pots were excavated from the archaeological site. The pots were cylindrical shaped and such pottery style is called Ento pottery. Ento pottery was made in the northern part of the Tohoku region and the south-west part of Hokkaido from the middle part of the early Jomon period to the latter part of the middle Jomon period (5500 to 4000 years ago). The unique shapes of such pots are like a water bucket that stretches up and down. We noted that a large number of Ento style pots were displayed on the stage and all were arranged according to age. Lower rows of the stage had older pots from the early Jomon period while the upper rows had flamboyant pots from the middle Jomon period. We noted that the pots exhibited on the lower rows from the early Jomon period (5500-5000 years ago) had cord marking which was decorative and also made the pots less susceptible to cracking when they were fired. The pots exhibited on the middle rows from the middle Jomon period (5000-4500 years ago) had elevated pinches on their rim and are thought to be the earliest forerunners of the spectacular flamboyant style of the latter part of the middle Jomon period. The pots exhibited on the upper rows from the latter part of the middle Jomon period (4200 years ago) had decorative styles where a broad interlinked herringbone pattern, of circles connected by lines, was superimposed upon the comb markings of pots. It was fascinating to see how the pottery technology developed with time. We loved looking at the display of these pots in details from various positions and angles. Also on the stage, we saw a mannequin figure of a female potter making pots. Archaeological studies have indicated that the potters used to be females during the Jomon period although there is no concrete evidence supporting this. In addition, the excavation studies have also shown that the larger pots, while used for ordinary purposes (like cooking, storage etc.) in life, were sometimes repurposed for child burials.
Exhibition of the Jomon period Ento style pottery on a stepped stage in the center of the museum hall as seen from the left side

Display of the Jomon period pottery on the stage as seen from the front

Display of the pottery on the stage as seen from the right side

Hubby standing in front of the pottery stage

Display of a few pots from the early Jomon period about 5500-5250 years ago

A few pots from the early Jomon period about 5250-5000 years ago

A pot from the middle Jomon period about 5000-4750 years ago

A few pots from the middle Jomon period about 4750-4500 years ago

A few pots from the latter part of the middle Jomon period about 4200 years ago

Many potsherds collected from the excavation site are displayed inside the museum


Next, we saw the display of several miniature clay pots that were excavated from the mounds at the archaeological site. The excavation results suggest that miniature pots might have been buried as grave goods, to ease the deceased person's existence in the afterlife. The dead, according to ancient belief, have to eat and drink just like the living people. Or they might have been used in other rituals, for example as offerings to the gods or symbols of abundance for the living. We noted that the displayed miniature pots had many interesting shapes and were made during the middle Jomon period (5000-4000 years ago).
Miniature clay pottery from middle Jomon period (5000-4000 years ago)


There was another corner inside the museum where we saw the display of several lacquered pottery and wooden items that were excavated from the archaeological site. Excavation studies have shown that lacquer was used by the Jomon people and lacquering technology may have been invented by them and was an established part of the Jomon culture. Unfortunately, we did not take any photos of the displayed lacquerware though we did click the photo of a mannequin figure making a lacquerware utensil.
A mannequin figure making a lacquerware utensil


Next, we saw the display of the ruins of several flat clay figurines that were excavated from the archaeological site. They were made during the middle Jomon period (5000-4000 years ago). Archaeologists are uncertain as to what they represent but the figurines conveyed a sense of mysteriousness and importance to us.
Several flat clay figurines from middle Jomon period (5000-4000 years ago)


Then we saw a corner named ‘decorated bodies’ which had several displays consisting of the ruins of jewelries and accessories that were excavated from the archaeological site. Jomon people used such accessories for decorating their bodies. Fashion was an important aspect of the lifestyle culture during the long bygone era. Hair ornaments, combs, ear ornaments, bracelets, pendants etc. were found at the archaeological site. In fact, hair ornaments made of bone and antler as well as ear ornaments and pendants made of stone and clay were excavated from the site. Archaeologists believe that though these accessories were partly for daily use, they may have been used for special days, including festivals and so on. We saw the display of many stone pendants, stone accessories, jade pendants, and several other accessories made during the middle Jomon period (5000-4000 years ago). We noted that most of the worked and polished stones had holes drilled through them, which might have been a laborious and tedious job for the Jomon people. This indicates that such stones were worn by living people in the form of pendants or accessories that were sewn or strung onto headbands, necklaces, pectorals, etc. and then buried with their owners after death. We also noted that some of the displayed stone accessories resembled the shape of a peanut, and may have been a precursor of the comma-shaped jades (Magatama) of later royalty. We loved looking at the display of all the interesting jewelries and accessories made of clay, wood, or stone. Also, the display of a pair of jade pendants was remarkable and exceptional. I am including the details about the displayed jewelries and accessories along with the photos below.
Mannequin figures of an adult combing or styling the hair of a child and I am trying to learn the styling tactics

Stone pendants from middle Jomon period (5000-4000 years ago)

Stone accessories from middle Jomon period (5000-4000 years ago)

Many more stone accessories from middle Jomon period (5000-4000 years ago)

A pair of jade pendants from middle Jomon period (5000-4000 years ago)


In the ‘decorated bodies’ corner of the museum hall, we also saw a display of the Jomon people’s clothing. Unfortunately the displayed clothing was a reproduction because original clothing itself has not been found from the archaeological site. However, many woven cloth pieces were excavated from the site. Based on such woven cloth pieces as well as the patterns on the flat clay figurines excavated from the site, archaeologists have reproduced the Jomon period clothing. Although the reproduced clothing is simple, it looks elegant and has a good aesthetic sense. Many such reproduced Jomon period outfits are kept in this corner for the visitors to try on. I wore one such reproduced clothing and took a souvenir photo inside the museum surrounded by the Jomon period relics.
Display of a reproduced clothing of the Jomon people

Several such outfits are kept in this corner for the visitors to try on

I am from the long bygone Jomon period


Next, we saw a diorama that recreated the lifestyle of the people of Jomon period. The mannequin figures in this diorama showed Jomon people living inside a pit-dwelling and engaged in various activities, such as weaving and cooking. Details of costume were authenticated by flat clay figurines obtained at the excavation site and also exhibited inside this museum hall.
Diorama showing mannequin figures of Jomon people living inside a pit-dwelling

The Jomon people engaged in various activities like weaving and cooking


Then we saw the displays of graves of a child and an adult. All the materials for the displays were excavated from the archaeological site and then rearranged inside the museum hall. Children were buried in pottery jars after their death. Jars used for cooking daily were turned into coffins. The Jomon people made holes or broke the bottom of such jars intentionally. Fist-sized round stones were found inside the jars in some cases. It was interesting to read about the graves of children of the Jomon period. Adjacent to the recreated grave of a child, we saw the display of several burial jars for children that were obtained from the excavation site, and were from the early Jomon period (5500-5000 years ago). Next, we saw a recreated grave of an adult. Adult graves were found to be arranged in a queue along the roads of the Jomon village that was excavated at the archaeological site. Oval pits were dug into the ground and wooden boards were lined up along the wall in the pits. In addition, stones were arranged in a circle around the pits. In some cases stone arrow heads, stone tools for cooking, and ornaments were found in the pits. The recreated adult grave displayed inside the museum was very interesting.
An adult mannequin figure offering flowers at the recreated grave of a child

Burial jars for children from early Jomon period (5500-5000 years ago)

Recreated grave of an adult


Finally, we saw a map of northern Japan that explained about the trading practices of the Jomon people of Sannai Maruyama Site. Many products from distant areas were carried into the site. For example, obsidian produced in Hokkaido and Nagano prefectures, asphalt in Akita prefecture, and jade at the border between Niigata and Toyama prefectures were transported to the site. These products were mainly carried with dugout canoes.
Map of northern Japan explaining the trading practices of the Jomon people of Sannai Maruyama Site


At this point, we finished seeing the reproduced scenes of the daily lives of Jomon people that were exhibited inside ‘Jomonjin no Kurashi wo Himotoku’ themed section of Sanmaru Museum. Sanmaru Museum is a wonderful facility to understand the lifestyle of the people of Jomon period.


1 comment:

Durga Prasad Dash said...

Enjoyed going through your post. Keep visiting beautiful places with your hubby and don't forget to share with us