Problems of Archaeology, Ethnography, Anthropology of
Siberia and Neighboring Territories

ISSN 2658-6193 (Online)

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2019 Volume XXV

DOI: 10.17746/2658-6193.2019.25.167-173

УДК 903.5

Neolithic Burials with Shell Bracelets on the Korean Peninsula and Japanese Islands: Problem of Social Differentiation

Nesterkina A.L., Solovyeva E.A.

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Abstract

Burials with bracelets made of shells of sea mollusks - a favorite raw material for making personal adornments among the population of the Korean Peninsula and Japanese Islands in the entire Neolithic - have been found in a specific archaeological context of shell mounds. This study identifies the features of differentiation in the Neolithic societies of the Korean Peninsula and Japanese Islands based on the materials of burials with shell bracelets. Detailed analysis of material evidence from the burials has shown that shall bracelets were not present in all burials, but only in some, and the number of such burials at each site was relatively small. Most frequently, bracelets were made of shells of white linear glycymeris (Glycymeris albolineata). Gathering these mollusks, as well as the subsequent processing of their shells for making bracelets was a laborious process which required special skills. Glycymeris shell bracelets were also exchanged between the populations of Korea and Japan. All this indicates that shell bracelets were prestigious and valuable items for the population of the Korean Peninsula and Japanese Islands in the Neolithic. Almost all shell bracelets accompany the burials of women and children. The presence of bracelets in children’s burials can be regarded as evidence of the emerging features of inheriting the social status among the Neolithic tribes, and their presence in female burials can be regarded as evidence of the special role of women in the Neolithic society. Most likely, women who would wear bracelets during their lifetime, were engaged in cultic and ritual activities, and could have played an important role in the rituals associated with marine fishing.

Keywords

Korean Peninsula, Japan Islands, Neolithic, shell mound, shell bracelets, social differentiation

17, Аkademika Lavrentieva prosp., Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
E-mail: sbornik.iaet@gmail.com