Thursday 12/5/2013, 11:15 AM – 12:00 PM, Doheny Library 233
Temporal Change in Mortuary Practices during the Transition from the Yayoi to Kofun Periods (Third Century C.E.) in Eastern Japan
DOI Shōhei, Graduate Student in Archaeology, Meiji University
Previous research into the transitional phase from the Yayoi to Kofun periods has been skewed toward mortuary practices because, while mortuary practices in the Yayoi Period were regionally very distinctive, mortuary practices during the Kofun Period seems to be uniform. This uniformity has also seemed to characterize people’s daily life during the Kofun Period. Here I look into the case of the old province of Kamitsuke (the present Gumma Prefecture) in the northern Kanto, where archaeological excavations have revealed mortuary practices of both the late Yayoi and early Kofun periods. I have compiled information for all the burial mounds thus far excavated, paying special attention to the morphology of coffins and other facilities where dead bodies were placed, spatial arrangements of mounds, and ceramic offerings to the dead. As a result I have discovered two epochs that mark temporal change in mortuary practices. In the late second century the late Yayoi Period, differences in coffins and other facilities where the dead bodies were placed became apparent, and in the early third century that saw the beginning of the Kofun Period, it is clear that various types of pottery that differed by region as well as morphologically different types of burial mounds were constructed. This suggests to me that various regional cultures were introduced into the Kamitsuke region even as the process of standardization in keyhole-shaped tumuli construction was ongoing.