Archaeological Reconstructions of Jomon Period Dwellings in Japan

Friday, September 14, 2012 - 16:00


Institute of East Asian Studies (2223 Fulton, 6th Floor), IEAS Conference Room
Speaker/Performer: John Ertl, Associate Professor, Kanazawa University; Visiting Scholar, Center for Japanese Studies
Sponsor: Center for Japanese Studies (CJS)
This talk examines the practice of prehistoric architectural reconstruction in Japan. The pit house has become one of the most emblematic features of Jomon culture – perhaps second to cord-marked pottery – and hundreds of examples may be found at historical parks throughout the country. As such, these buildings are an essential aspect of the contemporary image of the Jomon period, but one that is only partially informed by the archaeological record. These reconstructions are considered archaeological interpretations, in that any one site or feature provides only limited information on the original shape, materials, and construction techniques. Evidence is thus drawn from a number of sources involving collaboration amongst specialists from fields including architecture, history, ethnology, engineering, and natural sciences. This talk centers on reconstructions at Goshono, a middle-Jomon period site unique for the discovery of burnt remains in 1997 that provided the first evidence of dirt-covered roofs on Jomon pit houses. The research and activities at Goshono are framed in this talk as representative of an increasing “diversity” of contexts in which archaeological knowledge is produced. Specifically, “diversity” is used to reference a broadening of interpretative strategies, the multiplicity of collaborators and audiences, and a sharp increase in the amount and types of data used in analyses.
John Ertl (PhD Cultural Anthropology, UCB) is an associate professor at Kanazawa University, Japan. He is a visiting scholar at the Center for Japanese Studies as a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) fellow. For the past year he has been conducting ethnographic research on the “production of archaeological knowledge” at the department of anthropology East Asian Archaeology Laboratory.
Event Contact:, 510-642-3156