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Odai Yamamoto I site in Sotogahama, Aomori
Fragments of earthenware discovered at Odai Yamamoto I

The Odai Yamamoto I site (大平山元I遺跡, Ōdaiyamamoto ichi iseki) is a Jōmon-period archaeological site in Sotogahama, Aomori Prefecture, Japan. Excavations in 1998 uncovered forty-six earthenware fragments which have been dated as early as 14,500 BC (ca 16,500 BP); this places them among the earliest pottery currently known.[1][2][3] As the earliest in Japan, this marks the transition from the Japanese Paleolithic to Incipient Jōmon.[4] Other pottery of a similar date has been found at Gasy and Khummy on the lower Amur River.[5] Such a date puts the development of pottery before the warming at the end of the Pleistocene.[4]



148 m2 was excavated in 1998.[3] Finds included axes, spearheads, arrowheads, scapers, blades, and anvils, mostly of local shale but some also of obsidian.[3] The arrowheads are of special significance as they push back the beginnings of the history of archery.[3] The site forms part of a serial nomination submitted in 2009 for future inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List, under criteria iii and iv: Jōmon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaidō, Northern Tōhoku, and other regions.[6][7][8]


Thirty of the forty-six fragments of pottery, all from the same vessel, had carbonized residues, suggesting its use for the cooking of foodstuffs.[3] Eight AMS radiocarbon dates were generated from five of the fragments and three pieces of associated charred wood; these suggested a date of 11,800 to 11,500 BC.[3] With calibration, this dating was pushed back to 14,500 to 14,000, as early as around 16,500 BP.[3] Other datings have given a range between 13780 ± 170 and 12680 ± 140 BC.[9] This makes the site important to the understanding of the transition between the Pleistocene and the Holocene.[3] In recognition of their importance, the excavated artefacts have been designated a Municipal Cultural Property.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Habu Junko (2004). Ancient Jomon of Japan (Case Studies in Early Societies). Cambridge University Press. pp. 34–42. ISBN 978-0-521-77213-6.
  2. ^ "大平山元I遺跡 -日本最古の土器出土-" [Ōdaiyamamoto Ichi Site - Excavation of Japan's Earliest Earthenware] (in Japanese). Aomori Prefecture. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Kaner, S. (2003). "Jomon pottery, Japan". Current World Archaeology. Current Publishing. Archived from the original on 18 March 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2012.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. ^ a b Stark, Miriam T., ed. (2005). "Early Communities in East Asia:Economic and Sociopolitical Organization at the Local and Regional Levels". Archaeology of Asia (Blackwell Studies in Global Archaeology). Wiley-Blackwell. p. 136. ISBN 978-1-405-10212-4.
  5. ^ Li Liu; Xingcan Chen (2012). The Archaeology of China: From the Late Paleolithic to the Early Bronze Age. Cambridge University Press. pp. 68–9. ISBN 978-0-521-64432-7.
  6. ^ "Jômon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaidô, Northern Tôhoku, and other regions". UNESCO. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  7. ^ "「北海道・北東北を中心とした縄文遺跡群」の世界文化遺産登録をめざして" [Towards World Heritage Inscription of "Jōmon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaidō, Northern Tōhoku, and other regions"] (in Japanese). Hokkaidō Government Board of Education. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  8. ^ "北海道・北東北を中心とした縄文遺跡群" [Jōmon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaidō, Northern Tōhoku, and other regions] (in Japanese). Aomori City. Archived from the original on 20 April 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  9. ^ Jaubert, Jacques (2006). "Recent Paleolithic Studies in Japan-Proceedings for Tainted Evidence and Restoration of Confidence in the Pleistocene Archaeology of the Japanese Archipelago by K. Yajima (Review)". Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française (in French). Société Préhistorique Française. 103 (2): 404–6. JSTOR 41221027.
  10. ^ "外ヶ浜町文化財一覧" [List of the Cultural Properties of Sotogahama] (PDF) (in Japanese). Sotogahama Town. Retrieved 18 June 2012.

Coordinates: 41°04′02″N 140°33′18″E / 41.067288°N 140.554973°E / 41.067288; 140.554973 (Ōdaiyamamoto Ichi)